We got to spend some time on the snow with the first mass-produced electric snowmobile to hit the market, the Taiga Nomad. We came away impressed with what our future of electrified motorsports looks like.
In March, Taiga Motors delivered its first Nomad electric snowmobiles. Later this year, it will also ship its Ekko electric mountain sled, Atlas hybrid sled and Orca watercraft.
Electrified powersports machines of all types are finally hitting the mass market, and we’re excited. The Nomad is the first mass-produced electric snowmobile and the very first product from Taiga Motors, a Quebec-based electric vehicle manufacturer.
Taiga’s staff is made up of industry outsiders who are unrelated to older combustion engine designs. Think of the ex-Tesla, Rivian, and Ford engineers interested in building the best electric sports vehicles and the people who have decades in the powersports industry and want to develop the next-generation products.
“The delivery of our Nomad snowmobile is the realization of a seven-year vision to provide riders with an electric snowmobile that does not compromise performance while preserving the environment,” said Taiga CEO Sam Bruneau.
“Our customers can now experience first-hand the revolutionary technology and cutting-edge design that make Taiga a sustainable alternative while outperforming traditional powertrains.”
I took taiga nomad for a spin on Smuggler’s Notch, a steep, winding, unplowed mountain road that connects Stowe to Underhill, Vermont.
Short: The nomad delivered. It had great features for workhorse duties and trail riding. The maintenance-free powertrain, customizable ride settings and ultra-precise throttle control make it accessible, useful and fun. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced rider having a good time or trying to get some work done at a ski resort or elsewhere, the Taiga Nomad is worth considering.
Taiga Nomad Electric Snowmobile Review
The Nomad I drove had a 90 horsepower permanent magnet electric motor powered by a 23 kWh lithium-ion battery. According to Taiga, the Nomad travels about 62 miles per charge. Go for the larger battery, which is part of Taiga’s $2,000 performance package, and the range is up to 83 miles.
According to Bruneau, the Nomad recovers a lot of energy on the descents. Regenerative braking also extends brake life while giving the rider more control – the lock-in braking system modulates quickly and minimizes fishtailing, a first for snowmobiles.
How many miles you actually get on a charge depends on your riding style and the terrain, but the ‘regenerative’ braking is sure to be a help.
The Nomad’s range is likely to be the biggest limiting factor for riders who enjoy long-distance adventures. Taiga plans to build a network of trailside charging stations across Canada and the United States, possibly as early as 2025.
For now, you need to charge the machine by plugging it in at home or at an EV charging station. Many restaurants, hotels, and even retail stores in icy, snowy locations also have parking outlets, placed there to plug in diesel engine heaters, which could also run while commuting.
Cockpit design and magnetic key
The two-up Nomad’s cockpit looks a lot like any other snowmobile, with the brake on the left and the throttle on the right. A circuit breaker turns off the machine. The same goes for a magnetic tether which is also key. Wear it on your wrist and if you get thrown out of the machine, when the tether pulls out, the machine shuts off.
There’s also a switch for Range and Sport riding modes, a kind of throttle to give more control to new and slower riders. A 7-inch digital display shows speed, kilowatt consumption and range.
With the magnetic key attached, I pressed the green start button and the machine turned on silently. Taiga plans to program the machine to make a sound when turned on for safety reasons. I loved the calm.
Why electric snowmobiles?
Electric powersports vehicles are irresistible because they’re quiet and don’t pollute the air like gas-powered machines do. This opens up the market to new users, especially recreational backcountry users who didn’t want to burn fossil fuels when commuting from a ski slope, for example.
“Fundamentally, Taiga’s mission is to accelerate electrification in the off-road space — snowmobiles, watercraft, side-by-side,” Bruneau said. “It comes down to creating the best product at the best price for mass market adoption. We aim to continue to improve range, increase performance and reduce price, while building curbside charging infrastructure track.
It also offers powersports travelers the ability to extend their day once the machine’s range expands, or there’s the ability to recharge.
Some destinations don’t allow sledding after curfew to minimize noise for people who live nearby, but that could change as these near-silent machines hit the trails.
Safe and precise control
Because Taiga snowmobiles have no gas engine, there is little to no maintenance, which saves time and money.
You could also argue that the Nomad is safer than a comparable gas-powered snowmobile. Its systems allow for precise control, it has an extremely low center of gravity for stability and predictability, and the low-power “Range” mode acts as a regulator for entry-level riders.
Switch to high power mode, however, and you unleash the machine’s full power almost instantly. The Taiga Nomad electric snowmobile can hit 60 mph from a standstill in less than 3 seconds.
It’s fast enough for any level of rider!
I opened it while descending Smuggler’s Notch and experienced a thrilling ride. It made me want to take the Nomad for an even longer ride in more open terrain to really get a feel for its capabilities. The power, stability and handling I experienced were all impressive.
Taiga Nomad: Challenges
Cooling and thermal management are the biggest challenges in powersports, whether gas or electric, according to Bruneau. I experienced this myself last winter while snowmobiling over Colorado’s Independence Pass in low snow conditions.
Both my machine and my partner’s machine overheated, even though we stopped to shovel snow into the engines.
A combustion engine gives off a lot of heat. Run a gas-powered snowmobile in light snow conditions or on ice, and it will overheat because the snow isn’t being packed into the engine by the track to keep it cool.
Taiga’s electrical system does not create much heat, as it is very efficient. And the onboard heating/cooling system captures the heat it creates to keep the batteries warm.
Surprisingly, cold weather battery performance is not an issue for the Nomad and other Taiga sleds. Bruneau explained that you don’t lose range if a battery gets cold. You only lose range when using a battery when it’s cold.
Leave the Nomad plugged in overnight and the battery will be warm in the morning. Or don’t, start it in the morning and wait a few minutes before you start driving. The machine heats up efficiently with its multi-mode heating and cooling system designed to ensure optimal operation in all conditions.
“We’re just beginning to push the limits of what our technology can do and are focused on accelerating snowmobile deliveries,” Bruneau said.
The work-focused nomad we tested starts at $17,490.
Taiga also now ships the Ekko Mountain Sled and the Atlas hybrid sled. Currently, deliveries of new orders take 6-12 months, so place your order now if you’re hoping to be electric snowmobiling next winter.
Taiga Nomad Electric Snowmobile Specifications
- Technical details:
- Power : 90
- Towing capacity: up to 1,125 lbs.
- Payload: up to 125 lbs.
- Transmission: direct drive
- Vary: up to 62 miles in ideal conditions
- Charging sockets: SAE J1772/CCS Combination Coupler
- On-board charger: 6.6kW
- Brakes: Hayes disc brakes
- Mass: 341 kg (751.77 lb)
- Seats: 2-up
- Length: 3274.06mm (128.9″)
- Height: 1,549.40mm (61″)
- Width: 1,104.90mm (43.5″)
- Position of the skis: 1,072.42mm (42.3″)
- Track size: 154″x15″x1.6″
- Track: Studded
- Forward travel: 223.52mm (8.8″)
- Rear travel: 299.72mm (11.8″)
- Front geometry: double wishbone
- Rear geometry: Multilink