Last week, we covered Taiga Motors and the $50 million the company would be receiving from the Canadian government to build a first-of-its-kind, vertically integrated factory in Quebec. This week, I was lucky enough to be able to catch up with Taiga’s co-founder and CEO, Sam Bruneau, and talk about what that new factory is going to mean for Taiga, and for the powersports business as a whole.
“This is really a first for the powersports business, or e-powersports business,” explains Sam, talking about Taiga’s new factory. I’m paraphrasing a bit from my notes, but it’s the uniqueness of the company’s plans for its factory that Sam worked to convey. “It is sort of a Tesla approach,” he said. “We are making the battery packs, the IMS (controller), and assembling all of it under one roof. This gives us a lot of flexibility in developing the watercraft and the snowmobiles and, eventually, other products like side-by-side ATVs.”
I tried to stop him there, since I hadn’t heard about any plans from Taiga to launch a side-by-side ATV to compete with Polaris. “It’s the fastest growing powersports segment,” he explained. “Of course we’re looking into it.” And that’s kind of when it hit me: Sam Bruneau is like, a real dude.
I mean, he’s obviously real — as in, non-fictional — but when I say “real” I mean that there is a genuineness to Bruneau’s enthusiasm for outdoor powersports that is immediately engaging. “Can I mention the side-by-side?” I asked him, feeling like we were breaking some kind of story here. “If you want to,” was his easy reply. Again, paraphrased, “I don’t think it is a big secret, and no one else is doing e-powersports like this, with no compromises. We started with snowmobiles and watercraft because it is the hardest segment to develop. From there, the rest is easier.”
We talked some more about the upcoming Taiga Orca personal watercraft, and I made no attempts to hide the fact that I wanted one, badly. Bruneau seemed to like that, and we talked about some of the benefits of electric power on the water. “The instant torque is a benefit,” he explained. “But also if you have one at a lake house and you want to go for an early ride, you’re not waking up all the neighbors. No one wants to be that guy, right?”
I am 100% that guy, and had no idea what he was talking about, but the quiet operation of his e-powersports products, combined with zero tailpipe emissions, meant that Taiga has products that can go places internal-combustion powered vehicles simply cannot go, and not just because of policies and rules.
“We are talking with several people in Europe about using the snowmobiles there,” he explained — get this, as a rescue vehicle in treacherous conditions where an ICE (ha!) vehicle might cause an avalanche. It’s kind of a sanity-check, right? Because I’m trying to talk to this guy about 180 HP and mountains of torque in a ski and he’s talking about seeing nature and saving lives, but just when I start to think we’re not speaking the same language he drops right back into the performance aspects of what he’s doing.
“This is about no-compromise powersports,” he says. “This is the Tesla approach, again. We are going for the high-end, the premium product. Why Taiga, as a product? It is a better experience. Better performance, ownership experience, more reliable, and there is a reduced impact on the environment, too. It is better in every way, also because it is electric.”
We also touched on Taiga’s somewhat unique approach to sales, which speaks to the back and forth we’ve been having on CleanTechnica in recent weeks about direct sales models vs. the (not always the best experience) franchise dealers. Taiga has an interesting approach here, doing their sales primarily online in a “direct” way, but with final assembly, delivery, and the sale and installation of any aftermarket accessories happening at a local dealer level. “It is a hybrid,” says Sam. “We think it is a win-win for the dealers, because they can make something from the sale, then they become the point of contact and give local customer support and service, but they don’t have to carry expensive inventory or rely on ‘end of the year’ deals to clear out inventory they own. For them it can be a much better way to do business, and the customer gets exactly what they want.”
Well, the customer gets what they want, eventually. Taiga still hasn’t delivered any units, but once the factory is up and running they expect turnaround time from order to delivery to be somewhere in the 3-4 weeks range.
Original content from CleanTechnica.