EV Transition from SnowMachines to FireTrucks

May 16, 2022

Pasadena Star News:

LAFD Chief Kristin M. Crowley said the engine is a stepping stone toward a green future for Los Angeles.

“The new electric fire engine is an excellent platform for our department to test the future of alternative energy … and allows our department to pursue a green path forward,” Crowley said.

The fire engine features two batteries with a charge capacity of 100 kilowatts, enabling it to fully operate for roughly two hours. There’s an onboard diesel generator as backup for the batteries. The fire engine also comes with a small diesel engine — just in case.

The base cost for a Rosenbauer RT — or Rosenbauer Real Technology — is $900,000, with agencies able to customize them. LAFD’s electric fire engine cost approximately $1.2 million.

Technology is making whole categories of products somewhat less annoying.

New York Times:

Snowmobiles are part of the winter soundtrack in this part of Vermont, at their worst shattering the stillness of the forest like motorcycles on skis. But the motorized sleds bouncing along a wooded mountain trail in February were silent except for the whoosh of metal runners on snow.

The machines, made by a start-up Canadian company, Taiga, were battery-powered — the first electric snowmobiles to be sold widely — and symbols of how conveyances of all kinds are migrating to emission-free propulsion. Taiga is also offering battery-powered personal watercraft, another form of recreation where the gasoline version is regarded in some circles as a scourge.

While electric cars get most of the attention, electric lawn mowers, boats, bicycles, scooters and all-terrain vehicles are proliferating. In some categories, battery-powered machines are gaining market share faster than electric cars are conquering the auto world. Start-up companies are wooing investors by claiming to be the Teslas of the boating, cycling, or lawn and garden industry.

The environmental benefits are potentially significant. Unlike cars and trucks, outboard motors or lawn mowers do not usually have catalytic converters to reduce harmful emissions. They are noisy, and they often use lower-quality fuel. A gasoline lawn mower generates as much pollution in an hour as a 300-mile car trip, according to the California Air Resources Board.

California has passed legislation to ban gasoline-powered mowers beginning in 2024, and all new gasoline-powered vehicles by 2035. But sales of electric alternatives are growing even without a push from government.

One of the first customers for Taiga snowmobiles was Taos Ski Valley in New Mexico, which markets itself as an environmentally conscious ski resort. The Taos ski patrol and trail maintenance workers will use the electric snowmobiles for tasks like transporting injured skiers or servicing snow-making equipment, said David Norden, the chief executive of Taos Ski Valley. When skiing resumes this year, Taos also plans to deploy an electric snow-grooming machine made by Kässbohrer Geländefahrzeug, a German firm.

Even if the electric snowmobiles, which start at $17,500, are more expensive than gasoline counterparts, which can be had for less than $10,000, the resort will save money on fuel and maintenance, Mr. Norden said.

“You do the cost-benefit analysis, you’re probably close to break even,” he said. “These are not only decisions for the environment but also good decisions for our bottom line.”

But sometimes people are converting to electrical power because it offers practical advantages.

Buyers of electric lawn and garden equipment polled by the Freedonia Group, a research firm, cited noise reduction, low maintenance costs and no need to store cans of gasoline in the garage as their most important priorities. Often electric leaf blowers or string trimmers are cheaper and lighter than gasoline versions.


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