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Environment

Electric snowmobile company to build off-road charging network


A Canadian company hopes to persuade people to adopt electric snowmobiles and jet skis by establishing a grid of off-road charging stations across North America.

Taiga says it has already built some on-water charging points in Ontario and Quebec and envisages rolling out a network of more than 1,000 charging points by 2025.

The company also wants suggestions for charger locations. At the moment, other than a handful of suggested points in northern British Columbia, Taiga’s map of targets doesn’t include the Canadian North.

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The North is by no means friendly territory for electric vehicles in general, never mind snowmobiles. Many NWT communities exist entirely on diesel power and the number of electric vehicle owners in the territory can still be counted on a pair of hands.

Taiga envisages the above network of off-road charging points in years to come.
An example of a Taiga charging station is seen in a company handout image.

However, Taiga says its snowmobiles can already use existing electric chargers and so its off-road network builds on existing and coming capacity, rather than having to be developed from scratch.

That means potential NWT owners could use the highway-based system of chargers the territorial government is already planning alongside any off-road locations Taiga is persuaded to install.

In a news release on Tuesday, Taiga said it envisages using renewable energy to power most of its off-road network. Some NWT communities near hydro systems could feasibly support renewably powered off-road chargers, but many regions currently aren’t close to being ready.

Sam Bruneau, Taiga’s chief executive, touched on development in northern environments in that news release.

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“By leveraging evolving charging technologies, Taiga intends to harness renewable energy in hard-to-reach arctic-like locations, high mountain peaks, and undisturbed natural waterways, furthering our vision of unrestricted access to the outdoors,” Bruneau was quoted as saying.

So far, ski resorts have been one of the company’s biggest customers. Taiga says resorts are electrifying their snowmobile fleets to become more environmentally friendly. The company claims replacing a fleet of 50 resort snowmobiles with electric models is equivalent to taking 2,000 cars off the road for a year, if the snowmobiles are charged using renewable energy.

The company’s website states the first electric snowmobiles are being delivered to customers this fall. Models start at around $18,500 and have ranges of roughly 130 km.

Snowmobile availability in general is minimal, at best, as pandemic-related supply shortages continue. Joey Sutton, owner of Yellowknife’s Polar Tech, told the CBC earlier this month only 100 of the 300 snowmobiles his firm had ordered would arrive in time for the fall.

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