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Offroad EVs inbound: Polaris and Zero Motorcycles announce 10-year partnership

Polaris already had its eye on developing a series of off-road electric vehicles spanning its many product classes. And now that goal looks all but certain after a new partnership between Polaris and Zero Motorcycles to co-develop electric off-road vehicles was announced this morning.

Zero Motorcycles is the undisputed leader in electric motorcycles in the West, with a larger share of the North American electric motorcycle market than all other competitors such as Energica, Lightning Motorcycles and Harley-Davidson combined.

And Polaris has long led the off-road vehicle industry. Despite most of Polaris’ offerings being gas-powered up to this point, the company indeed offers a handful of electric models such as the GEM neighborhood electric vehicle (NEV) and the all-terrain Ranger EV.

Now the two companies are combining forces in a 10-year exclusive partnership to develop a series of electric off-road vehicles and electric snowmobiles.

As Polaris explained:

This exclusive partnership in off-road vehicles (ORV) and snowmobiles is a cornerstone component of rEV’d up, Polaris’ long-term strategy to position the company as the leader in powersports electrification.

Popular Polaris models could soon be getting electric versions

And we won’t have to wait long to see the fruit of this new partnership.

Polaris and Zero claim the first off-road electric vehicle developed by the partnership will roll out by the end of 2021.

Polaris CEO Scott Wine further elaborated in a statement provided to Electrek:

Thanks to advancements in power, pricing and performance over the last several years, and with customer interest surging, now is the right time for Polaris, with Zero Motorcycles as a key strategic partner, to implement our rEV’d up initiative and aggressively accelerate our position in powersports electrification.

Zero Motorcycles’ pioneering electrification experience, proven leadership, and electric powertrain technologies are unmatched in the market. We believe this transformative partnership will enable us to leapfrog technological hurdles around range and cost while providing a tremendous speed-to-market advantage — an instant offense. Leveraging the strengths of our teams and a shared culture of innovation and passion for this industry, Polaris and Zero will collaborate to shape the future of powersports.

The details of the agreement indicate that Polaris will handle the development, manufacture, and sales of the electric vehicles, while Zero will be in charge of aspects related to the electric drivetrains of the vehicles.

This isn’t the first time companies have shown interest in adopting Zero’s electric drivetrains that have been developed and fine tuned over more than a decade of product development.

For example, the Russian motorcycle manufacturer Ural, famous for its sidecar motorcycles, worked with Zero to develop a sidecar electric motorcycle using Ural’s motorcycle designs and Zero’s drivetrain.

ural electric sidecar motorcycle
Zero Motorcycle’s electric drivetrains have been a popular starting point for other companies

Now it looks like Polaris will have exclusive access to Zero’s drivetrains for non-motorcycle vehicles over the next decade, allowing them to compete with other off-road EV manufacturers as well as the burgeoning electric snowmobile market.

And with Zero already dominating the electric motorcycle market in much of the world, this will be a chance for the company’s electric drivetrains to find their way into a series of new electric vehicles designed for overlanding and other more rugged riding and driving.

As Zero Motorcycles CEO Sam Paschel explained further:

All of us at Zero Motorcycles are delighted and honored to be a part of this industry-changing strategic relationship with Polaris as we collaborate and co-develop the technologies and vehicle platforms that will power the future of electrification in powersports.

This revolutionary partnership is bringing together two incredibly talented teams aimed at dramatically expanding the electric options in powersports. Our EV expertise and millions of miles of real-world, rubber-meets-the-road EV experience, coupled with Polaris’ broad product portfolio, scale, supply chain and market leadership, makes this a game-changer for every powersports enthusiast.

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Avatar for Micah Toll Micah Toll

Micah Toll is a personal electric vehicle enthusiast, battery nerd, and author of the Amazon #1 bestselling books DIY Lithium Batteries, DIY Solar Power, The Ultimate DIY Ebike Guide and The Electric Bike Manifesto.

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