How Zero’s electric motorcycle tech is making Polaris’s Electric Ranger better than gas UTVs

Polaris is gearing up to release an all-new Electric Ranger UTV this December, which they confidently claim will be the “best RANGER ever.” The new electric utility vehicle could help Polaris leapfrog several years forward to the top of the electric power-sports market, but it never would have happened without a strategic partnership with Zero Motorcycles.

Polaris has been releasing a steady trickle of teaser videos to show off a prototype version of the upcoming new Electric Ranger UTV.

The vehicle uses an electric powertrain developed with the help of Zero Motorcycles, a Santa Cruz, California-based leading electric motorcycle manufacturer.

According to Polaris engineering director for special vehicles team Brent Erspamer, the new electric UTV is designed to be better than any of its gas-powered cousins:

“When we set out to build the all-new Electric Ranger, it wasn’t just to build an electric Ranger. It was to build the best Ranger ever.”

Polaris in fact already produces an electric Ranger. But to put it mildly, it’s no feat of electrical engineering. The bones of the vehicle may be good, but the current model uses decades-old wet-cell battery technology and has been in serious need of a total redesign.

That’s precisely what the Zero Motorcycles partnership is doing for Polaris.

As Polaris vice president of off-road vehicles Chris Judson explained:

“We knew that we needed to choose a partner that was as passionate about their products and their customers as we are, but technically advanced in electric powertrains. And that’s why we chose Zero Motorcycles.”

Zero has been producing electric motorcycles based on their own in-house powertrain designs for 14 years. In addition to having a huge jump-start on developing electric powertrain technology, Zero leads in electric motorcycle sales volume by a wide margin compared to others in the industry.

That kind of detailed experience has proven critical to Polaris’ Electric Ranger project.

Erspamer explained that Zero’s experience helped Polaris get a leg up on a complete package that could be merged into the new Electric Ranger:

“We wanted to partner with the best company so that we could take their expertise, their knowledge, and integrate that right into our product.

Zero’s director of communications Dan Quick further discussed how the two companies formed a mutually beneficial partnership:

“It’s a marriage of expertise in the sense that there is no firm with more experience, more real life miles and more units on the road of electric motorcycles than Zero Motorcycles. And comparatively, there is no firm with more owners, more miles and experience in side-by-sides than Polaris. And the culmination of those two realms of expertise is embodied in the all-new Electric RANGER.”

In the past we’ve seen Polaris show off just how nimble and precise the electric drivetrain has made the new Electric Ranger prototype.

Tasks like precision driving and aligning a tow hitch with a trailer are much easier and more exact with the electric drivetrain due to its precision capabilities.

The company also demonstrated the Electric Ranger’s precision driving with a teeter-totter stunt, showing off how easy it was to control the UTV.

That’s a point that Polaris’s marketing manager Anna Abbott emphasized:

“‘Hardest working, smoothest riding’ is the motto of RANGER. It’s what we live by.

And in incorporating Zero and their electric powertrains into our off-road vehicles, we are able to take the performance of RANGER to a whole new level. Not just from a smoothest-riding or low-speed driving perspective, but we’re also able to make specific capability enhancements that make it the hardest working RANGER we’ve ever built.”

Polaris has been promising that the new Electric Ranger will launch in December of this year, and so far we’ve seen nothing to indicate they won’t maintain that timeline, despite other electric motorsport products recently seeing lengthened timeframes due to industry pressures on shipping and supply chains.

Assuming Polaris can stick to the December schedule, we should be seeing the fully unveiled Electric Ranger soon.

We’ve seen plenty of demonstrations of the UTVs impressive performance. Now the biggest unknown remaining is the price.

We’re unlikely to get any clues on that figure until the official unveiling, but stay tuned over the next few months just in case.

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