The Polaris RANGER XP Kinetic UTV was just launched this morning, marking the most powerful, highest torque, and quite likely the most capable utility vehicle on the market today.
Oh, and it just happens to be electric.
Born out of an exclusive partnership between electric motorcycle company Zero Motorcycles and off-road giant Polaris, the three-seater RANGER XP Kinetic is the first in a series of electric power sports products to be released by Polaris.
When the duo first announced the partnership and plans for a new all-electric Ranger, I assumed they’d use Zero’s smallest 46 hp motor. It already would have bested many other UTVs on the market in the power and torque departments, not to mention all the other advantages of electric drivetrains.
But Polaris went the other direction, opting for Zero’s most powerful 110 hp (82 kW) motor offering 140 ft-lb of torque.
That puts the new RANGER XP Kinetic leaps and bounds above the performance of other UTVs, gas or electric.
The RANGER XP Kinetic can haul an industry-leading 1,250 lbs (568 kg) or tow an even better 2,500 lbs (1,136 kg), taking advantage of that extreme low-end torque from the electric powertrain. Horse trailer, farm equipment, flatbed with another couple RANGERs on it, you name it, and this thing can probably tow it. And without a gas powertrain in the way, the UTV offers a massive 14 inches of ground clearance, not to mention 10 inches of suspension travel.
I spoke with Polaris VP of Off-Road Chris Judson, who explained that the goal throughout the development process was to improve functionality and performance. “It wasn’t about building an electric RANGER,” he explained. “It was about building the best RANGER ever. Period.”
The advantages of the new electric drivetrain don’t stop at power and performance. The precision operation is a huge benefit for jobs like plowing, grading, towing, and more. The RANGER XP Kinetic features a new shifter design with high, low, neutral, and park, but also adds an updated easy-to-use forward/reverse switch for quick back and forth operation – think snow plowing or other repetitive tasks.
And the quiet operation of the electric powertrain also adds to both the convenience and usability of the new UTV. Not only is it easier to hold a comfortable conversation with someone sitting next to you, but the RANGER XP Kinetic can be operated stealthily as well. Early morning snow plowing without waking the neighbors, working around livestock without agitating the animals, or accessing hunting areas without spooking all the game. You name it; the silent operation makes it more convenient.
Two battery options are available: a 14.9 kWh pack offering up to 45 miles (72 km) of range and a 29.8 kWh option with up to 80 miles (130 km) of range.
The RANGER XP Kinetic should feel familiar to current Polaris operators as it retains much of the same DNA and is compatible with 95% of the existing RANGER XP 1000 accessories. That includes features like an enclosed cab for all-weather riding. However, there are also key tech improvements, such as an electric heater for the colder months and, of course, all the brainpower waiting inside that 7” infotainment screen.
The new RIDE COMMAND adds connectivity and functionality, including features like the on-screen battery & remaining range data, plus a waypoint feature to mark the operator’s current distance from their charging point.
Remote vehicle monitoring also allows owners to check on their UTVs status from their phone, run diagnostics, and view any maintenance concerns that may be creeping up. Remote vehicle location should be useful for hikers or hunters to navigate back to their ride (or perhaps just anyone who forgot where they parked).
Charging is designed to be as simple as possible, with the RANGER XP Kinetic offering both Level 1 (slow overnight charge) and Level 2 (quicker charge for in the middle of the day) capabilities for either 120V or 240V charging. A three-kilowatt built-in charger comes standard on the Premium trim while a six-kilowatt charger is installed on the Ultimate trim. Both offer a full charge in as little as five hours due to the Ultimate trim having twice the battery capacity, or an extra three kilowatts of charging power can be added to either model to charge up to 50% faster.
A 240V charging solution is recommended to take advantage of up to four times faster charging than a typical 120V outlet. To help owners prepare their property for the fastest charging options, Polaris has partnered with Qmerit, the largest nationwide network for certified electrical installers for EV charging.
As president of off-road at Polaris Steve Menneto explained:
“Our utility side-by-side customers are focused on getting the job done and with the launch of our new RANGER XP Kinetic, customers also want a turnkey solution for fast, accessible charging, enabling them to get back to work and fun faster. Qmerit will be the go-to resource for Polaris, and our dealers, to support these customers’ needs.”
Speaking of dealers, they’re being trained up as well. The RANGER XP Kinetic is expected to require much less maintenance than gas UTVs, and offer up to 70% less maintenance costs according to Polaris. The internal-combustion engine and transmission with hundreds of moving parts is replaced by a simple, powerful electric motor that counts a pair of bearings as some of its only true moving parts. That means no spark plugs to foul, no swapping out filters or changing oil, and no clutch maintenance. But dealers are still being trained on the new unique features and functions that go along with maintaining the vehicles. And when it comes to warranty coverage, the RANGER XP Kinetic comes with a 1-year all inclusive warranty, 3-year warranty on the electric powertrain and 5-year warranty on the battery.
Pre-orders open today and the vehicles will begin making deliveries in Summer 2022.
The Polaris RANGER XP Kinetic Premium starts at $24,999, while the Polaris RANGER XP Kinetic Ultimate starts at $29,999.
This is big news. Polaris of course plays a major role in the UTV market, and today’s announcement of the most powerful and capable new UTV helps bolster that position. The timing is critical too, since there are now new startups hoping to take a bite out of the electric powersports market.
The new RANGER XP Kinetic may be expensive, but it’s also the most premium RANGER offered by Polaris, bar none. This isn’t an entry-level vehicle, it’s what you get when you keep scrolling to the fancier and fancier models further down the catalog page. When the Polaris engineering team talked about building the best RANGER yet, gas or electric, they weren’t kidding.
While I’d love to see a more affordable offering, this is unfortunately the way these halo products usually begin. The extra cost of an electric drivetrain necessitates a more premium product that eventually funds the development of more cost-effective models for the masses. Tesla started with a six-figure Roadster sports car before eventually working its way to a family sedan in the mid-five figures. And Polaris also started at the top, not just offering crazy performance with extreme power and torque but also opting for the largest battery pack (and in fact, an option for two battery packs) from Zero Motorcycles, along with all of that embedded tech in the RIDE COMMAND+ system.
The market will be limited by the price in the beginning, that’s for sure. But the most important thing with Polaris’ first real heavy-duty all-electric RANGER (I’m not counting that obsolete offering the company already had) is showing not just what is capable, but what is actually better with the inclusion of an electric powertrain. Now once we’ve seen what can be done, I look forward to seeing Polaris roll out future renditions as well as electric models across its other product lines as well.
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