State of the Market: ATVs - Spring 2021
Updated: Apr 7, 2021
So. You want an electric 4-wheeler, eh? Good for you! I want one too. But chances are if you’re reading this article, then you already know the sad sting of disappointment - because you’ve probably already googled the phrase “electric 4-wheeler” or “electric quad” or some such and have been met with nothing but garbage. Chances are when your search engine of choice scoured the interweb for “electric atv,” the results it produced were cluttered almost exclusively with offerings for toddlers and small children.
Now, I suppose that’s all well and good if, say, you are in fact a toddler. But we’re not toddlers, are we? No. No, we are not. We (or a lot of us anyway) are adults to some degree or another, and all we want is a doggone electric quad. Where the hell are they? It’s 2021 A.D. for Pete’s sake! Right now this very moment we are farther into the future than Michael Jonathon Fox was in Back to the Future 2: Return of the Past. Okay, so I made up the sub-title, and Michael J. Fox’s middle name is actually Andrew for some reason. Go figure. But the point remains: it’s the future dammit, and we’re still stuck in the past - on the same old loud, vibrating, smelly, oily quads of yesteryear.
Why? Great question. Take a quick look at the biggest names in off-road market: Polaris, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, maybe Can-Am. Therein lies your answer. Ask them what the holdup is. Of all the aforementioned major manufacturers, not one of them has brought to market a battery-powered electric quad (for full-size people). Again I say, this is 2021. What. The Ever-loving. Hell? If you want to point the finger at someone, then point it at these guys. They’ve been content to sit on their Laurels - the poor girls - not spending an extra dime in the R&D department on actual R&D devoted to applying an electric drivetrain to an ATV, a platform ideally suited to electric propulsion. Rich Benoit of the infamous Rich Rebuilds appears to have spent more time and resources on adapting an electric drivetrain to an ATV than any of these big-name manufacturers. And that’s just... sad.
Of course, you may have stumbled upon a small independent manufacturer that produces an electric quad, but they likely don’t have much of a dealer network or offer much in the way of customer support, and they may not sell the product in your region at all. You, like me, may not want to drop thousands of dollars on a product from a company like that - because, honestly, it’s a good chunk of change for the average Joe to buy one of these things. If you’re going to spend that kind of money, why shouldn’t you be able to get something from a factory with some decent quality control and from a manufacturer with a dependable warranty and a reputation to maintain?
On the other hand, if none of what I just mentioned is of any importance to you, then you may very well be interested in a small time electric quad manufacturer like DRR USA - short for Dirt Road Riding United States of America. These guys are relatively unknown but got their start about twenty years ago in the youth off-road racing scene manufacturing and selling mini quads. They've moved on up a bit since then and now sell one of the very few electric ATVs intended for adult riders. It comes in three flavors: Stealth, Adventure, and Safari. Of those three flavors, the Safari is the only one with 4-wheel drive and rings up at $12,999. Moving down a rung gets you the Adventure with only RWD but a longer range of 70 miles (compared with 35 miles for the Safari and the Stealth) for $8,499. Getting in at the ground floor with the Stealth will set you back $7,499. All three appear to sport lithium-ion batteries, a big plus; and not only that, these batteries apparently come with some sort of lift system that allows the owner to easily remove (and presumably replace) the battery should the need arise. Interestingly, DRR's website notes on its product pages that all three of these ATVs are currently sold out. If you would like to reserve one, simply put down a small deposit of $150 to hold your place in line. Expect more details from us about DRR and their full-size electric quads soon.
While I appreciate the efforts of small outfits like DRR and wish them success, I have grown exceedingly impatient with the big-name manufacturers; and I think it’s high time we get some respectable, 4-wheeled, electric options with handle bars and a seat you can straddle or even ride side-saddle, if you prefer. What do you guys think? Am I turning into a cranky old codger, or do I have a point here? And be sure to get off my lawn before you answer.