I had the opportunity to take a look at the Polaris utility vehicle (UTV) and all terrain vehicle (ATV) lineup for 2010 about a month ago (information embargoed until today). Although there are many new and improved models to talk about, today I want to focus on an entirely new concept from the company, which comes in the form of the Ranger EV.
When I was first introduced to the Ranger EV, I thought something was wrong because its debut came at the end of a long line of well choreographed entrances that all began with the sound of an engine starting, just before a sleek new machine burst through the curtain and onto center stage. This time, the pause seemed too long – I was worried that the hard working folks at the Polaris Research and Development facility in Wyoming, Minnesota were having difficulty getting the final entry started. Boy was I wrong. That Ranger EV came bursting through the curtain all right, but the only hum its entrance made came from the crowd of journalists and magazine editors in the audience.
The Ranger EV is based on the Polaris mid-sized chassis but it is powered with eight 12-volt batteries through a 48-volt electric motor that’s directly coupled to a Polaris transaxle. The transaxle is equipped with low noise gears and offers the operator shift on the fly AWD, 2WD and Turf Mode. The machine also has high and low speed ranges, but those are actuated by modulating the motor controls and not actual gearing. Batteries are mounted low and symmetrically along the centerline of the chassis so this machine is incredibly stable.
The Ranger EV has a 50 mile range when the Max Range driving mode is selected. And it has regenerative braking in low range. Like all Polaris UTVs for 2010 the Ranger EV comes standard with a certified ROPS – the roll cage is now a proven passenger protection device. Recharging the Ranger EV takes up to 8 hours, depending on how far you run the batteries down.
I was able to spend more than an hour putting the Ranger EV through its paces and I can tell you that the machine impressed me beyond belief. The torque-delivering electric motor motivated the nearly 2000 pound package (with me and a passenger on board) up steep trails, over rock beds and log piles with seemingly no effort at all. In low mode, the regenerative braking made long steep descents a breeze. The machine has a top speed of 25 mph, which is plenty fast enough for me, especially when using the UTV as a farm hand. The strangest thing about operating the Ranger EV is the lack of engine noise. You can wander the farm without scaring the cattle – or attracting their attention. You can also sneak up on game very easily with this machine.
In true Polaris form, the Ranger EV is not a glorified golf cart. It has a box payload capacity of 500 pounds, a total payload capacity of 1000 pounds and is certified for towing up to 1250 pounds. The Ranger EV is also the real deal in the off road travel department. It has 10 inches of ground clearance, 8 inches of travel in its front Macpherson Strut suspension and 9 inches of travel in its dual A-arm independent rear suspension. I hammered the Ranger EV over log piles and enough rocks to convince myself that getting it stuck would be a real trick. Even after an hour on the tail and obstacle course, there was no indication on the Ranger EV’s charge meter that I had run the batteries down at all.
The Ranger EV models list at $10,699 and $10,999 depending on whether you can settle for blue or really need the Mossy Oak Camo skin color. The Ranger EV is a true workhorse – and it’s easy on the ears and easy on the environment to boot. Check out the 2010 Ranger EV at a Polaris dealer near you.
Hank Will raises hair sheep, heritage cattle and many varieties of open-pollinated corn with his wife, Karen, on their rural Osage County, Kansas farm. His home life is a perfect complement to his professional life as editor in chief at GRIT and Capper's Farmer magazines. Connect with him on Google+.