That’s right. I have seen the future and I think I like it!
On a recent trip to Montana to view all the new Polaris models for 2011 (notice I mentioned ‘all’ the new models as compared to most manufacturers with nothing new!) I took my first ride in the Ranger EV. The EV in case you don’t know stands for Electric Vehicle.
It certainly got my attention and I quickly begged Polaris for a test unit.
I’ll back up a bit here and mention that I always (and I mean ALWAYS) have a Kawasaki Mule sitting directly outside my office door for use around my little ranch, or farm, or whatever it is. Although I’ve only got about 25 acres of property, it includes a couple acres of pasture, a pond, several thousand feet of stream, a big enough garden to put a small tractor in, more than several acres of woodland, and enough weeds to drive a Southern California desert rat absolutely NUTS! Plus I haul my own trash across town to the dump. And where I live I also regularly drive the Mule (or some sort of ATV/UTV to the Post office, to my daughter’s school, and to the neighbor’s to visit. And of course there’s always the trips up the mountain to gather wood, and just go for an evening ride to smell the pines and watch the aspen quake, and listen for the elk to bugle.
So needless to say that when I drove the EV around the Montana ranch I wondered how well it would actually work in the real world – my real world.
So I now have a new Ranger EV sitting outside my office right next to my diesel Mule! Well actually it doesn’t sit as close to my door as the Mule as it needs to be attached to an extension cord when not in use.
Of course I’ll give you a full video test as soon as the embargo date for the 2011 models arrives, and I put a few more miles on it, but until then I’ll say this; Wow! Oh, and you can count on an extended test as well letting you know how the EV works over the long run as well.
First, let me say that it’s quiet - like a sailboat as compared to a powerboat quiet. Or a hang glider as compared to a powered plane. Weirdly, eerily quiet. Just the wind and the water. Well, kinda. Of course just as quiet brings awareness of other things you typically won’t hear, it also brings with it the notice of certain things you don’t typically hear. Although I can hear the stream rumbling and dashing over the rocks as I ride by, I can also hear the front end rattle and grind. Trade-offs I suppose. And something I’ve learned to just accept from Polaris. While they are always pushing the envelope, I oftentimes wish they improved the existing envelope before pushing it.
I’m still measuring hours and miles that I get on a charge. And I need to ask someone smarter than me how much it costs to charge the EV as compared to putting fuel in my Mule, but so far I’m amazed.
The quiet travel certainly makes other’s look up and smile. Noise is one of the impacts on the surroundings that trail users seldom consider. So I see lots of smiles as I head up the trail looking for firewood or wildlife. I also hear lots of things I’m not used to hearing while riding, like the stream, or even the approach of an old-style, fossil fuel powered ATV.Whoa! I’m already starting to sound like an environmentalist!
We’ve got a long ways to go before there is an electric vehicle that can replace a gas-powered vehicle for exploring the great outdoors, but I’m ready.