A few years ago, BRP announced they were working hard to electrify their products. They had committed that by 2026, we would find an electric model in each product segment: motorcycles, watercraft, quads and of course snowmobiles.
Like most people, I expected that snowmobiles would be the last product family to have a 100% electric model. Winter operating conditions are very challenging for electrically powered vehicles, especially for snowmobiles. In addition to the cold, snow, ice and temperature differences are elements that provide more challenges when compared to other types of vehicles. Once again, the people at Ski-Doo found a way to surprise me. The Grand Touring Electric is making its debut in 2024.
Not available immediately!
However, those who dream of owning an electric Ski-Doo snowmobile will have to wait a few years. Indeed, the Grand Touring Electric will only be offered to rental companies. With a limited range of 50km, it is clear that this snowmobile is not suitable for the average snowmobiler. While some may be tempted to criticize the manufacturer, I see this as a historic moment in the snowmobile world. Undoubtedly, we will witness major technological advances in this type of propulsion in the coming years.
Well-suited for short-term rentals
In a rental context for trips of 50km or less, it is evident that the vast majority of users will be people with little or no experience behind the handlebars. Therefore, Ski-Doo has provided two DESS keys that provide different behaviors. The “Client” key limits the vehicle’s speed to 40 km/h, while the “Guide” key limits the speed to 60 km/h. The engine response is also different. For customers, it is very progressive, while for the guide, the accelerations are more vigorous and rapid.
My test drive of the Grand Touring electric 2024
I must admit that I feel very fortunate to have been among the very few reviewers invited by Ski-Doo to do this historic test. As a colleague of mine from another magazine said, 20 years from now, this will be the thing we remember most. This is the first milestone in this new chapter of snowmobile history!
From the outside, very little indicates that this version of the Grand Touring has an electric motor. Indeed, apart from the air intakes that are plugged in and the large display, there are few clues.
When I sat behind the handlebars, everything reminds us of a similar gasoline model. The difference comes when you activate the snowmobile and press the throttle. You quickly get used to the engine’s behavior. At first, I had the customer key. Everything was very progressive and reminded me a bit of the 600 ACE engine’s behavior in ECO mode, except for the top speed.
At the halfway point, I switched to the Guide key. Acceleration is much more rapid and vigorous. Also, the handling is interesting for the intended use of this machine.
The ride and suspension do the job very well. Since the engine and battery are located at the front, we expected to feel a heavier ride. It’s not. In fact, it’s remarkable how well the weight is distributed throughout the vehicle. An interesting point to note is that the electric version weighs no more than its gasoline equivalent. Impressive!
In short, my experience was very positive. Once again, one must keep in mind the objectives and the clientele targeted by the manufacturer. In this context, the manufacturer has succeeded in setting the bar relatively high for other manufacturers.
Of course, it will be interesting to follow the evolution of electric snowmobile models over the next few years.