The electrification of the world’s transportation systems is still in its nascent stages, but more and more companies are apparently considering an electric future, and that now includes Canadian firm BRP, better known as Bombardier Recreational Products, maker of all manner of wheeled (and floating) fun machines including go-karts, watercraft, side-by-sides and, perhaps soon, motorcycles.
In a product showcase that took place in Las Vegas a few days ago, BRP took time to show off a slew of electrified concept vehicles that included six prototypes. Perhaps most interesting, an electric motorcycle and a spyder-style three-wheeler were ridden onstage.
BRP was quick to point out that all of the electric ideas that were shown in Vegas are likely not coming to a showroom anytime soon, but Denys Lapointe, SVP of Design, Innovation and Creative Services, also made clear that electric vehicles are under strong consideration in the company’s near-future plans. “BRP has been working for some time on how to create e-vehicles to bring new experiences to potential and existing riders. As we’ve said, it was never a question of “if’’, but “when,’’ Lapointe said in a press release. “We continue to constantly innovate, and e-vehicles are no exception. For the moment, these are preliminary concepts as we are currently evaluating market viability,’’ he added.
No vehicle specs were released, but the display was impressive, especially the motorcycle and spyder, which featured a roof of sorts. The as-yet unnamed motorcycle featured an innovative, almost monocoque design and judging from a YouTube video frame grab (above), it was sporting a full-on working speedo/display panel as it was ridden onstage. So not exactly a mock-up. “These concepts give a glimpse of what the future could hold, among others, for both of its current product lines and for other potential segments,” BRP said in its press release.
It’s notable that BRP scooped up some assets from now-defunct electric motorcycle make Alta Motors earlier this year. Alta was linked to Harley-Davidson as they spooled up their $30,000 Livewire electric motorcycle, which is now on the market, but they quickly parted ways as Alta floundered.
The fact that a company like BRP is looking towards electrification is important. BRP is a big umbrella under which many prominent outdoor-oriented brands such as Sea-Doo, Can-Am, Alumacraft, Rotax, Manitou and Evinrude reside. If they push forward on electrifying outdoor products that have traditionally been gas-powered and do it in a way that makes sense for their consumers - especially in the work vehicles segment - it could be another beachhead for the expanding EV market, and other companies, such as Polaris, with their many brands (including Indian), could follow.
Electrified vehicles could find a comfortable home in the outdoor market, where a quiet electrified vehicle may have advantages over gas-powered rigs when it comes to hunting and other sound-sensitive activities. Indoor karting at facilities like K1 Speed, where drivers battle it out on weather-shielded indoor tracks in electric go-karts, are rising in popularity since the tracks are enclosed, the machines are quiet but are still fast and fun. BRP, via Rotax, now has an e-kart facility up and running in Linz, Austria. For many people, especially youngsters, the e-karts are their first exposure to a high-performance electric vehicle, and BRP’s Rotax SONIC electric go-karts are already being driven. They may be joined by some other fun toys soon.