With a range of 62 or 83 miles and limited charging infrastructure, Taiga’s first battery-powered sled won’t convert in bulk, but it’s a start.
Peace and tranquility fill the fresh air around Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch ski resort in winter. Located at the foot of three interconnected mountains, the stunning resort village is where Taiga, a Canadian company that makes all-electric recreational vehicles, recently took us to try out one of their new sleds.
At first glance, the black and white machine looks like any other gasoline-powered sled built by casual players like Polaris and Ski-Doo. But when you turn on the Taiga’s all-electric sled, there will be absolute silence instead of the dire cry that the traditional two-stroke engine produces. Our initial impression is that the lack of drama will appeal to first-time riders and those who prefer the tranquility of nature to the traditional buzz. However, for equestrian enthusiasts and anyone who grew up around sleds – like this author – the missing smells and sounds can reduce the riding experience. It’s also the disconnection we feel when we hear the whirling electric motor of the Porsche Taycan, as opposed to the naturally aspirated six-flat engine of the 911 GT3.
Dubbed the Nomad, the utility carriage we ride has a 90 hp permanent magnet electric motor powered by a standard lithium-ion battery pack with a total rating of 23.0 kilowatt-hours (Taiga won’t tell usable power) in the seats. Taiga claims this setup offers a range of 62 miles per charge. A 120 hp electric motor and a larger battery good for the 83-mile range are part of the $2000 performance package. Taiga says these range figures are based on efficient battery temperatures, which are maintained between 68 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit with a liquid-cooled heat management system. However, it is expected that the actual range will vary depending on the style and riding conditions of the individual. While Taiga asserts that most sledrs travel less than 100 miles a day, our experience is that many people do it before lunch. Either way, we think it’s going to be hard to convince people that a range of 62 or 83 miles is enough,
especially when you have the opportunity to see a better sasquatch than a roadside charging station.
Taiga plans to change that by building a network of thousands of charging stations in off-road locations across Canada and the United States as early as 2025. However, the map on their website currently only shows targeted locations rather than specific addresses, so we’ll have to wait and see how that goes.
Before taking the Nomad out to rip, we were introduced to the basic controls. The brake lever on the left side of the register and the throttle (read: throttle) and the switch to turn off the bright red light on the right looks very typical. Less familiar are the on-off switches on and off on the left for the regenerative braking system, combined with conventional disc brakes and switches for range and sport driving modes.
Between the windshield and the steering wheel is a 7.0-inch digital display that displays speed, kilowatt usage, and range. All that is missing is the location of the nearest charging station.
The magnet tether connection acts as a key and presses the green start button — electric sleds are activated without sound. While silence is peaceful, some types of buzzing or buzzing can improve safety, in such a way that electric cars make subtle noises to alert pedestrians. We say that’s under review.
We started in Range mode with the lowest regen setting. Squeezing the accelerator will create immediate thrust, creating a similar sense of the instantaneous torque that defines the electric vehicle. In Sport mode, the Nomad becomes extremely fast but still easy to control. Taiga claims that nomad’s engine can offer a top speed of 60 mph. The result was a fast silent machine that finally hit the speed wall, which held back our enthusiasm. We enjoyed the recovery braking system, especially when going down steep terrain at the highest regen setting and barely using the handbrake.
Finally, it’s time to recharge. Each Taiga sled has a 6.6 kW built-in charger with a J1772 port that is compatible with any charger that works with conventional electric vehicles, such as the Ford Mustang Mach-E. Sorry, Tesla fans, it doesn’t work with Superchargers. Taiga says a full charge of a standard battery with a 2 charge will take about 4 hours. With a Level 3 built-in charger and a speed of 30 to 40 kilowatts, charging the battery from 0 to 80% is said to take about 30 minutes. However, good luck finding the DC fast charger off the frozen lake, on the mountainside, or even at a bar near the top of the trail. In short, the Nomad can be plugged into a standard 120-volt socket, but recharging there takes between 13 and 14 hours — meaning it’s possible to recharge the cabin overnight, though very little.
Meanwhile, we assume that Taiga’s electric sleds could be successful in rental fleets, where use (and therefore charging) takes place in more fixed cycles, and in national parks where emissions and noise are strictly regulated. The company says it has at least 130 multi-unit orders from commercial operators globally. For now, that audience could be Taiga’s main market, representing a solid opportunity for people who are regularly exposed to electric sleds without a financial commitment.
The Nomad we drive has a two-seat configuration and is equipped with a 154.0-inch track. It also has an optional Level 3 built-in charger, which is currently included in the starting price of $17,490, and is equipped with a $2000 performance suspension, including an upgraded Elka damper, bringing the total to $19,490.
Online pre-orders are now $500, and the company says it prioritizes orders on a first-come, first-come basis, with deliveries expected to begin around the end of the year. Taiga will also offer performance-oriented models on the trail and the mountain bike segment. Whether the ski community is willing to accept the Taiga’s first all-electric sleds remains to be seen, but they are a first step towards the electrification of the inevitable recreational vehicles.