Upon arrival to Wyoming, Minnesota, home of Polaris Industries' impressive R&D facility, I've just got to come out and say this: I was intensely overwhelmed by the sheer number of updated and brand-new units Polaris had unveiled for its 2010 ATV and side-by-side lineup. From an economic standpoint, it's certainly exceptional and worthy of applause that Polaris is staying on the gas and powering through with innovation in these most difficult times. The downside? How do I even begin to cram all of this information into six pages? For obvious reasons that's just not going to happen, which brings me to my next bone of contention. Exactly which models are most deserving of the spotlight from the Polaris camp?
As Associate Editor Eli Madero and I began debating the daunting task of deciding which of the many new Polaris innovations we would feature, oddly enough that decision came fairly easy for both of us. If you've read much of my work over the past year, surely you've realized on more than one occasion that the skyrocketing fuel prices and all of this ridiculous talk of going green have my riding socks in a wad. It's not that I don't think we should take care of the environment, but I refuse to fall in step with overblown global-warming Armageddon fanatics and I reject the idea of ever accepting the soon to be big business of carbon credits. Try selling a carbon credit to a crying Native Indian and count how many seconds it would take before you're scalped. With the writing on the wall about our sport's future, we as an off-road community need to be concerned about this enormous fuel problem speeding in our direction. More and more politicians and citizens are jumping on the bandwagon to eventually ban fossil fuels, and in an instant, this sport we live and breathe can be taken from us.
"The power was extremely peppy...
"The power was extremely peppy and is more than adequate for conquering many if not most obstacles you'll encounter on the trail."
I know, you're probably wondering why I just went off on that tangent about environmental issues, but I actually have an interesting reason. I've been anxiously waiting to see ATV and side-by-side manufacturers venture into the world of electric-powered off-road vehicles for quite some time now. I'm certainly excited to break the news as Polaris Industries has released the Ranger EV, yes an electric-powered side-by-side. As employees drove the new EV into the conference room for its unveiling, I had tandem thoughts going off within my head simultaneously. Thought number one: "Wow, that is absolutely genius." The other thought: "But there is no way that it will realistically perform anything close to a gas-powered machine." I also might add that the EV in no way, shape or form resembles a golf cart. Believe me when I say that this side-by-side is 100 percent American Ranger innovation.
The next morning we arose well before the sun so we could get out early and put in some time on all of the new models, but for me, I had only one machine in mind. Since electric side-by-sides are obviously in their infant stages, Polaris purposely built and is marketing this Ranger for work and maybe even very slight recreational play purposes. The EV is powered by a 30-horsepower 48-volt Brushless AC induction motor which is claimed to possess low maintenance and high performance and can even run for two hours nonstop. Of course, the ride time is subjective, as it can be run on different settings such as high, low and max modes. Obviously, if you run on high at full throttle for an extended amount of time, your time becomes much more limited and you'll be seeking out the nearest standard 110 outlet to get a charge. As shocking as this might sound, just like all other versions of the Ranger lineup, the EV comes equipped with a fully functional on-demand true all-wheel-drive system with Versatrac. The AWD system automatically engages as the driver needs more forward traction and will revert back to 2WD automatically when AWD is no longer needed. The driver has the option of switching to 1WD when making sharp turns on turf without tearing it up.