(Montebello) Bombardier recreational products announced in 2021 an investment of $300 million over five years to add electric models to all of its seven vehicle lines. The Press had the chance to try out the first of this technological offensive, the Grand Touring Electric snowmobile, a clean and quiet machine exclusively intended for resorts affiliated with the Quebec manufacturer.
At first glance, the white and yellow snowmobiles parked in front of the BRP Experience center at Château Montebello are identical to the Grand Touring models plying the snowy trails. It’s at startup that the difference is felt. Way of speaking: we feel nothing and we hear nothing. Only a flashing blue light on the digital dashboard indicates that the snowmobile is ready to set off.
On the trail, the machine behaves exactly like a gasoline model. Lighter than its cousin, it gives the sensation of being more playful and more nervous, but it is nevertheless predictable, especially when the initiation key is engaged – this is the basic configuration which will be offered to customers of the centers. BRP experience.
We therefore have fun by following turns in the wooded hills around Montebello, the short route offering some beautiful and interesting viewpoints. But it’s when we stop in the forest that we appreciate being on an electric snowmobile the most: no engine noise masks the sounds of the surrounding nature.
This first BRP electrification exercise is a springboard for the Valcourt manufacturer. “Snowmobiling is a healthy sport, but one that has been relatively stable internationally for years,” says Jérémie Doyon-Roch, brand strategy director for Ski-Doo, Lynx and Sea-Doo. For us, the challenge is constant to see how we can grow this sport, how we can mobilize the next generation of snowmobilers. With our mission to electrify our products, the electric snowmobile will be a great vessel to allow new people to discover the sport and enjoy the winter. »
“And what could be better than experience centers to experience this with less commitment,” he continues. It’s ideal to start living this experience in an environment that is very safe, very inviting and which is built exactly for that. Also, experience centers around the world have been asking us for years to have this product. »
In Quebec, you can now try the Grand Touring Electric at Château Montebello, but also at NordExpé in Charlevoix and Imago Village, in the Valin mountains, in Saguenay. Clean and quiet, electric snowmobiles will certainly be able to travel to environmentally sensitive environments where their gas-powered cousins are persona non grata.
Rejuvenate the image of the industry
It’s the kind of snowmobile that could also restore the image of a hobby that sometimes attracts its share of criticism. “The traditional snowmobiling that we know here on our trails can indeed have a bad press, it is sometimes perceived as a sport that has aged poorly,” recognizes Mr. Doyon-Roch lucidly.
So it’s certain that with the arrival of our electric vehicles, it re-energizes everything a little. I think it can create excitement around our products by showing how we can explore and enjoy winter in a slightly different way. I believe it will rejuvenate the image of our brand and our industry.
Jérémie Doyon-Roch, brand strategy director for Ski-Doo, Lynx and Sea-Doo
This is why BRP intends to continue with the launch of other electric products, starting with the Can-Am Pulse and Origin motorcycles before the end of the year, but also its Sea-Doo Rise, a hydrofoil board (foil) electric that could well be seen in BRP experience centers. “I don’t want to commit myself, but a center like here where we offer all the summer products at the marina like Sea-Doos or pontoons, it would absolutely be the kind of place where we could try them out », recognizes Jérémie Roch-Doyon.
If the board foil will also be offered to the general public, the current limits of the electric snowmobile confine it to applications intended for vacationers in tourist centers – other configurations which do not require covering great distances are being considered.
If it’s not tomorrow the day before we go on a long hike, we can still imagine the day when this will come to fruition: “We have an electrification research center in Valcourt where we have hired 200 people , tells us Émilie Proulx, head of public, corporate and global relations. We are working there to develop the electric battery and the components, and we also have a center in Austria where we have 100 people who are also working to develop this strategy. Our goal is for 50% of our products sold in 2035 to be electric. »
Ski-Doo Grand Touring Electric
Range: 50 km
Recharge time: 90 minutes to take the battery from 10% to 80% charge on a level 2 terminal
Weight: 539 pounds
Maximum speed: 40 km/h in Initiation mode, 60 km/h in Performance mode
- That’s how many resorts around the world offer BRP vehicle experiences, including 12 offering electric snowmobile tours.
Source: Bombardier Recreational Products