By on December 3, 2021

I know – we rarely (if ever) cover powersports on this site, given our mission to bring you news about cars and shine lights on dusty corners of the automotive industry. However, the new Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic is worth your attention, simply for the change it is signaling in terms of electric vehicles.

The off-road market isn’t exactly the type of area in which one would expect an EV to thrive. After all, we generally thrash on the things in conditions which are not to be believed before poking them away for five days until the weekend rolls around again. Or, if you’re a company buying these things for work on a ranch or other type of property, they tend to be in use all day as employees hop from one job to another.

Which is why the introduction of this Ranger XP Kinetic is big news. Until now, the thought of an all-electric side-by-side was borderline preposterous, given the limited amount of range manufacturers were able to (affordably) pack into this type of machine. Driving distance of a golf cart is useless in most of the situations in which a Polaris Ranger finds itself – namely, hauling logs on the Back 40 or plowing snow from the ski club parking lot.

There will be a pair of trims when the 2023 Ranger Kinetic drops midway through the next calendar year. First up is a Premium trim which carries 14.9 kWh worth of batteries and is said to be good for a maximum range of about 45 miles. Stepping up to the Ultimate trim brings a few extra features, including the Ride Command 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system (yes, on a side-by-side), and doubles battery capacity to 29.8 kWh. This stretches total driving distance to roughly 80 miles, truthfully not that far off the road-going 2021 Mini Cooper S E (110 miles).

Power from the electric motor, which Polaris engineers told us is mounted in roughly the same location as the gasser’s engine, checks in at 110 horsepower. That’s a number on par with what’s expected in workhorse-grade UTVs (psychotic sports units like the Polaris RZR Pro R wield up to 225 horsepower). The big news is, as with most EVs, torque. Here, there is 140 lb-ft of the stuff, all of which is available the instant its pilot drops the hammer. Towing is rated at 2,500 lbs – more than some on-road crossovers – and payload is capped at 1,250 pounds. Toss in 14 inches of ground clearance and 10 inches of suspension travel and you’ve a machine whose specs compare well with its gasoline-powered brothers.

If you’re wondering, a comparable Polaris XP 1000 makes 82 horsepower from its 999 cc engine and has equal towing/payload ratings. This suggests limitations of its brakes and chassis (both the gasser and EV), not the powertrain. In a secret demonstration attended by this author back in August, we witnessed a prototype Ranger XP Kinetic tow a heavy-duty pickup truck and an attendant trailer. That type of usage is not recommended, of course, nor will it do the Kinetic’s range any favors. Point is – the capability is there thanks to a mountain of torque. We’ll also note an all-electric’s relatively silent operations, which will be a bonus for hunters and people working around livestock.

Here’s another consideration. The gas-powered XP 1000 has an 11.5-gallon fuel tank and gets about 12 mpg on a good day, less in the hands of your lead-footed scribe. This means I’ll get roughly 120 miles from a tank of fuel if I’m lucky, just 40 more than the XP Kinetic in Ultimate trim. As first efforts go, that’s not bad at all. Of course, I can take a can of gas with me and refill on the trail.

Polaris insists they’ve hurled their usual battery (pun intended) of tests at the XP Kinetic, ensuring a robust system that’ll endure the typical abuse hurled at these machines. With much lower operating and running costs, these things might just make sense for the fleet buyer seeking to replace those tired machines which have been in use on their property for ages. The ground clearance and off-road capability of any Ranger make them much more suitable for certain duties than a golf cart, and they are able to get into – and out of – places a cheap pickup truck or Jeep would not.

This brings us to the price. The least expensive Ranger XP Kinetic will set customers back $24,999, with the long-range Ultimate adding 5 large to that figure. Some landowners will find overall long-term value in these numbers. A comparable 3-seat Ranger XP 1000, if you’re wondering and we know you are, starts right about 20 grand.

We look forward to seeing how they do in the market. If successful, you can bet it won’t be the last EV to be born from the collab between Polaris and Zero Motorcycles.

[Images: Polaris]

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29 Comments on “Polaris Introduces All-Electric Ranger, Signals Shift in Off-Road Market...”


  • avatar
    Lou_BC

    This is intended more as a job site mule or moderate to small sized ranch/farm. A 45 – 80 mile range is decent for a utility mule.

    I just watched a video about 2 battery powered adventure bikes covering over 1,000 miles in 7 days in the Rocky Mountains. They’d typically have to recharge at least once in a day. Inclement weather was the main thing that slowed progress. They did have to ride at a slower pace than typical to conserve charge. The nice thing was that there was no power degradation at high elevations.

  • avatar
    Imagefont

    I own some land in a rural neighborhood of mostly 10-15 acres lots. These are very popular for driving around the community roads to check your mail, visit your neighbors and move stuff around on your land. I can see these being incredibly successful with the simplicity of charging, lower maintenance and the fact that range anxiety under those circumstances is just not an issue. The question will be cost because these things are already very expensive. If an electric drivetrain adds another 50% to the price range – forget it – sales will be minuscule. The relatively small battery needed should mean near parity in price.

    • 0 avatar
      fourthreezee

      This.

      Until there is some next-level battery chemistry breakthrough (like LIon was) these electric feel-good machines will only sell in the very low volumes. They are (whether ATV’s or autos), essentially these company’s own farts they produce and can then smell themselves- to feel better and greeeen.

      This ‘Ranger’ will be at the bottom of Polaris’ product page under all their petrol models. Same as the low volume Teslas, and leafs and every other piece of electric crap.

      Mark my words.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @fourthreezi:”Until there is some next-level battery chemistry breakthrough (like LIon was) ”

        Let’s examine this with some actual numbers. So, we had Nickel Metal Hydride batteries that had 100 Wh/kg density in the Prius. When the Leaf came along, its battery had 132 Wh/kg. With the breakthroughs in material improvements and design that have happened since the Leaf, we have Tesla’s 4680 cells in pilot production and mass production in 2022 with 380 Wh/kg density. From the Prius to the Leaf, Lithium-Ion was a 32% improvement. From the Leaf to 4680, density more than tripled. So, I’d say we’ve been getting our breakthroughs at a steady pace. There were other breakthroughs as well like the one 2 years ago that solved the problem of making sodium-ion batteries possible. There were the other breakthroughs like LFP batteries and silicon anodes as well. There are batteries even higher density that may be going into mass production soon. Soon we’ll have mixed packs of sodium-ion and lithium-ion that gives us the advantages of each technology. That technology is being put into production by CATL.

        So, the advancements are happening and some of them have been even greater than the original lithium-ion. Polaris doesn’t have them yet, but they’ll be in a position to implement them when they become more widely available. GIven the battery tech that’s coming, they might actually improve on the range of their gasser.

        I do a lot of offroading so I know what people, at least some segments of the community, want. A lot of us want quiet and don’t like the noise of the engine. If we wanted noise, we’d go drive the Cross-Bronx expressway in a Miata instead. Sometimes it’s for hunting where you might not want to scare every bit of game in a 5-mile radius away from your quads.

        Other uses for this type of vehicle is construction sites and football stadiums. Those uses already include some electrics. They do need ORVs and do have Polarises for stadiums because there are remote unpaved parking lots and snow that has to be dealt with. In football, you have vehicles that aren’t being used for a week, so there’s plenty of time to charge them.

        Low volume Teslas? In the US, the Model Y outsells the Nissan Sentra, Ford Escape, Honda Pilot, Hyundai Tucson, Subaru Outback, and Subaru Forester. That’s in spite of the fact that it’s $60k and with a long waitlist. Teslas deliveries in Q3 2021 (worldwide) were 240,000. Producing 240k of something in 3 months isn’t low volume.

        https://www.caranddriver.com/news/g36005989/best-selling-cars-2021/

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        “This.

        Until there is some next-level battery chemistry breakthrough (like LIon was) these electric feel-good machines will only sell in the very low volumes. They are (whether ATV’s or autos), essentially these company’s own farts they produce and can then smell themselves- to feel better and greeeen.

        This ‘Ranger’ will be at the bottom of Polaris’ product page under all their petrol models. Same as the low volume Teslas, and leafs and every other piece of electric crap.

        Mark my words.”

        This was an hilarious yet brutally honest comment.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Potentially interesting factoid:
    “The Ranger XP Kinetic has… a curb weight of about 2,000 pounds”
    (Could make some potentially interesting power-to-weight comparisons with that kind of data.)

    Additional potentially interesting factoid:
    “…which is just 50 pounds more than a gasoline-powered Ranger.”
    (Hmmmmmmm…. have Carlos Tavares and Akio Toyoda seen this?)

  • avatar
    Luke42

    My soaring club needs something like this to shuttle people and haul sailplanes around the airport surface.

    Soaring pilots tend to like quiet vehicles, and our airport provides electricity for free with hangar rent. (The airport management didn’t seem interested in installing a separate meter for us to power our golf carts or any future EVs.)

  • avatar
    redapple

    BS.

    BEV ORV?

    Just wait until it runs out of juice in an area where the rescue pickup cannot access.

    Fixing something that isnt broken – like most techie beta boys. I ll stick with gas thank you very much.

    • 0 avatar
      fourthreezee

      Word

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      @redapple, Sir, some alternative thoughts. My grandpa had a John Deere Gator. He used it 2-3 days a week during planting and harvest seasons. Usually, once a week when the the weather was good. The rest of the time it sat in the barn. He ran stabil in the gas tank and it had to be jump-started more than once. These aren’t daily-use vehicles for most of their buyers. It was parked when it got cold, he was an old man and had an F-150 with a heater.

      My daughter has my dog tags. They’re old-school black taped to be silent. The guys I worked for loved silence. Deadly silence. Imagine Special Forces guys with silent UTVs. Now imagine DARPA playing with these things. Imagine some DoD contract for the enhanced version. Back at the compound imagine some E-9 yelling at his E-4 to make sure these are plugged in. In that respect, some things never change. These could truly be high-speed low-drag UTVs.

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    Deer Hunters rejoice!

  • avatar
    EBFlex

    This is laughably bad. Far more money and weight and it only has an 80 mile range? And after that you are stuck with an extremely long recharge time. All for MORE MONEY than an ICE model.

    The ICE model not only gets a longer range but can be refilled in 3 minutes to give you another 120 miles of range.

    This, much like full size EVs, as so severely compromised that you wonder if it is just a bad joke rather than something that a short sighted company is desperately attempting to make a business case for.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      @EBFlex, there are advantages and disadvantages. It won’t fit every use case. It may fit some use cases better.

      Example 1: I use a 60 volt electric blower for my yard now, but my new favorite blower is a little 20 volt ‘shop blower’ (about 20 inches long) that I keep inside the house by the back door. I use it for about 8 seconds at a time to blow leaves and pine needles out the door and away from the door. No fumes, no oil, no mess, no fuss. It was cheap and the battery ‘range’ is Just Fine for my use case. [I would never use a gasoline-powered blower in the same way – for Many Reasons.]

      Example 2: At high school marching band competitions around here, many schools use John Deere Gators or similar to move equipment and props from the trailers to the football field and back. An electric utility vehicle would be quieter (a plus for obvious reasons), and range would not be a concern. [The use is highly intermittent and seasonal, which isn’t ideal for some ICE components.]

      https://tinyurl.com/yckrtbxb

      [The John Deere TE 4×2 uses six Trojan T-105 lead acid batteries. Biggest issue would be making sure no one let them freeze while discharged – a $30 smart trickle charger would prevent this. But just in case, a six-pack of replacement batteries is $1,600 at Amazon – some of the bands would pay that much without blinking.]

      • 0 avatar
        EBFlex

        Tool guy:

        Those examples are not, in any way shape or form, analogues. A small leaf blower and a large ORV seem to have very different uses but YMMV.

        For your extremely specific example on a football field, yes, that one vehicle would be ideal for an electric. But I would imagine, if an entity is purchasing a $15k-$20k vehicle like that, it would be used for more things than just a few football games a year.

        • 0 avatar
          mcs

          The NFL is only off for a few weeks. The vehicles are used year-round. Distances aren’t huge. Some of them do end up sitting around and that’s where the problems can occur. Sitting parked is not good for gas engines.

          Other problems with the gas vehicles can be noise they make. During the week you have interviews being conducted in rooms off the tunnels and often video shoots by sponsors producing commercials. When that happens, they shut down movement by gas vehicles in the tunnels. The Polarises, John Deer Gators, and gas forklifts get parked.

          The Polarises are used a lot by parking management/supervision and security. Both need the capability of getting through unplowed snow. With the furthest parking lot within a mile, you don’t need a lot of range.

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          @EBFlex,

          I get lost with all the ATV/UTV terminology, but a couple more examples hopefully closer to the mark:

          – I can use a small electric utility vehicle inside (and outside) a convention hall to do setup for an auto show.

          – I can use a small electric utility indoors on a soundstage, or outdoors during a video or movie shoot without generating a lot of noise (or offending the sensitive noses of the talent).

          – I could use a small electric utility to do maintenance in the 8-story deep underground parking garage I used to park in.

          The range is more than adequate, and the electric vehicle directly addresses significant shortcomings of an ICE in these applications.

          Note that these three use cases could also be addressed by an F-150 Lightning, with the additional advantage of it providing some amount of onboard power.

          The point of the ‘analogues’ was: Choose the right tool for the job. What might be a ‘joke’ in some contexts is just perfect for some jobs, sometimes uniquely so.

          [The bands perform at football games, but I was referring to contests. It’s a big deal – do a google image search on ‘high school band trailer’.]

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            ORV is just off road vehicle. A more broad term than ATV or UTV.

            And again, those are not analogous. Those are all hyper specific examples and frankly, not the target market of Polaris. They want this severely compromised toy to take the place of their true ATVs/UTVs. It takes longer to refill, has a much shorter range, and costs more.

            It has the exact same compromises as EVs. Until they fix either the range or recharge times, this (and EVS in general) are nothing more than niche vehicles that make a great second or third vehicle. But as primary transportation, they have a long way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      Garak

      I could see quite a few places where you’d might want an electric model. Countries with expensive gas, worksites where you’re driving in poorly ventilated spaces, with the mining industry, in parks with noise restrictions, etc. You could also run that thing in the night without the neighbors complaining.

      I’d imagine the EV model has also lower maintenance costs in the long run, something else the commercial operator’s looking for.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        @Garak: It would also be good for search and rescue. In a search, with a gas model, the noise could drown out the sound of someone calling for help. With an electric, the searchers have a better chance of hearing them.

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        “in parks with noise restrictions”

        Last time I went camping (state park, reserved spot, tent-beside-the-car setup), here comes the ranger putt-putting by on the gasoline utility vehicle every few hours. Then here comes the ginormous gasoline riding mower, followed by the Incredibly Loud and Very Dirty gasoline blower. Felt just like being at home. :-)

        • 0 avatar
          ToolGuy

          [Oh, then there is the gasoline-powered auger that another ranger and I may have used to install lantern posts at each campsite – I’m sure the other campers were thrilled that day.]

      • 0 avatar
        Carlson Fan

        “I could see quite a few places where you’d might want an electric model.”

        I’ll bet my paycheck Polaris sells these things as quickly as they can build them(probably be a waiting list) & they’ll only expand their offering of EV products going forward.

        Anyone that thinks otherwise is a fool and clueless about the world they are currently living in. My company is a supplier for Polaris & we are already submitting quotes for parts of other Polaris electric vehicles they intend on building.

        Next time I speak with a family member who is a design engineer for Polaris snow, I’ll ask him if they have any electric snowmobile prototypes they are working on. What do think his answer will be?

        • 0 avatar
          Garak

          Honestly, just the low maintenance of the electric drivetrain sounds appealing to me.

          Gas or diesel Rangers aren’t exactly maintenance free vehicles, there’s plenty of routine work to be done, and the engines don’t have especially long lives. With the EV variant you lose oil change, CVT pulleys, changing the belt, air cleaner, fuel pump, starter, valve adjustments, fuel filter and whatnot.

          There’s so much less stuff that needs fiddling with or routine replacements. I’ll bet the running costs are a fraction compared to a gas model.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            Another thing is that I sneak up on deer all the time on my mountain bike. I’m sure it would be the same on a hunting trip with one of these electric polarises. You might need 120 miles range hunting on a gas polaris, but maybe only 10 with an electric because you’ll probably bag a deer much sooner.

          • 0 avatar
            EBFlex

            “Another thing is that I sneak up on deer all the time on my mountain bike.”

            No….you don’t.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            “No….you don’t.”

            Yes I do. All the time. Sure, you have to keep your eyes open and most of the time I’m not riding fast. I’m not deliberately stalking them on the bike. On foot, it’s a different story. Usually, they’ll freeze, but sometimes you’ll startle them and they’ll bolt and scare the crap out of you. On rare occasions, I’ve encountered moose as well. We have an overpopulation of deer. Hunting is pretty good here. Some sections are restricted to bow, but not a problem.

            I’m out on the trails year-round. Actually, even more in the snow. We do a lot of fat tire/spiked tire riding here in the winter. I ski and snowshoe as well. Even keep the snowshoes hung up on the rack next to the door. I have a good trail circling my own property and yes, encounter deer there as well.

  • avatar
    Polka King

    Is this thing going to burst into flames in the forest some day?

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      You’re probably thinking of their gas-powered models which do have a problem with catching fire. Hopefully the electric models don’t have that problem:

      https://www.minnpost.com/business/2020/02/fire-problems-continue-to-plague-popular-models-of-polaris-off-road-vehicles/

      • 0 avatar
        Lou_BC

        True. Polaris quads did have an issue with catching fire. My neighbour’s shed burned down and if it wasn’t for a passer by turning a garden hose on it to slow things down they would have lost their house.

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