It’s no secret that fossil fuels are a finite resource and eventually vehicles will be using an alternative form of energy. Many would argue that electric UTVs are the future of powersports, but others are less certain about that being the case.
Just like UTVs powered by internal combustion engines, electric vehicles have their own pros and cons. Likewise, owners of these electric side-by-sides usually have their own reasons for choosing electric over gasoline.
There are a lot of people, however, that are simply unfamiliar with electric UTVs and the benefits that they offer. Below is some important information about these machines, as well as a buyer’s guide for those in the market for a new or used electric UTV.
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Power: Gas vs. Electric
Probably the biggest question mark for most people is the difference in power and how it’s delivered between gas and electric vehicles. While some people may need the increased range or power of a gas or diesel powered UTV, there’s also a common misconception that electric UTVs are inherently low on power.
While they can’t compete with a RZR XP Turbo or Can-Am Maverick X3, they have more than enough power for trail riding and all but the most extreme work.
Gas engines also have to reach certain engine speeds to achieve peak torque and horsepower numbers. Electric motors provide peak torque instantly. Not even a diesel can provide peak torque as soon as you press the throttle.
This is one of the primary advantages of an electric UTV. The power delivery is also smooth and linear, making it an excellent choice for work applications as well as recreational use.
Though gas engines only provide peak power at certain RPMs, they are usually more powerful overall. This makes it very important to determine what you need your UTV to do, before deciding on electric or gas.
What are the advantages of electric UTVs?
There are a lot of advantages to owning an electric UTV. The most obvious is that you no longer need gas. The electric UTV runs off of a battery pack that you charge before riding. Since you aren’t using a gas engine, you also don’t have any engine noise or obnoxious fumes.
This allows you to more easily carry on a conversation with your passenger or sneak into the woods without scaring away game animals if you’re hunting.
Electric UTVs are also a bit easier to maintain. There are fewer moving parts overall and you don’t have to worry about things like air filters, fuel filters, spark plugs, or oil changes.
Long term, it should cost less to maintain than a comparable gas powered vehicle. Also, unlike most modern UTVs, there are no belts to break or slip. The idea of not having to deal with gas, fumes, noise, or maintenance certainly has some appeal.
What are the disadvantages of electric UTVs?
Just like any other product, electric UTVs also have some disadvantages. Most electric motors in UTVs are producing around 30 hp or so, with a few exceptions, while manufacturers are making gas powered UTVs with forced induction approaching 200 hp.
Electric UTVs make plenty of power for their intended use, but it’s not going to excite people like a turbo-charged side-by-side. Another limitation of electric UTVs is the driving range.
Most manufacturers don’t advertise the range because there are so many variables that have an impact on that. Most will have a range of around 20-40 miles.
That’s a respectable number, but if you travel on trail systems that stretch for 100+ miles, that’s not going to cut it. Finally, weight can be a bit of an issue with electric UTVs. The battery packs increase the weight of a standard UTV significantly.
This can be detrimental to handling characteristics and could also see the machine sink and bog down in sandy or muddy conditions. Though the limitations are obvious, these can be great machines for a variety of uses.
The owner simply has to be aware of those limitations and not push the machine beyond its intended use.
Polaris Ranger EV
The Ranger EV has been a popular choice for an electric UTV for awhile. One of the main reasons for its popularity is the fact that it is built on the same work-ready chassis as the midsize Ranger 500 and 570. The single 48-volt electric motor is rated at 30 hp, just two less than the Ranger 500.
It also has a 1,000 lb payload capacity and can tow up to 1,500 lbs. It has the Polaris On-Demand True AWD system, as well as Versa Trac turf mode. Suspension is provided by MacPherson struts up front with dual A-arms out back, providing 9 inches of wheel travel at all four corners. It has 25 inch Carlisle tires mounted on 12 inch steel wheels and ground clearance is a solid 10 inches.
It only has a small digital gauge that includes an hour meter, battery lift indicator, and drive mode indicator, among others. It comes standard with 50 watt halogen headlights and LED taillights.
This vehicle is fairly heavy, tipping the scales at 1,762 lbs. It’s available in Avalanche Gray with an MSRP of $11,899 or Polaris Pursuit Camo with an MSRP of $12,499.
Intimidator Classic Series 48-Volt Electric
While not as well known as the Polaris Ranger EV, the Intimidator Classic Series 48-Volt Electric is a great option for anyone looking for an electric UTV. With a 63 inch width, it falls into the full size UTV category. The single 48-volt AC motor provides 30 hp and 120 lb-ft of torque.
The Intimidator has a 1,200 payload capacity, though the bed is only rated for 700 lbs of that, and a 1,500 lb towing capacity. Dual A-arms provide 10 inches of wheel travel, front and rear. That, coupled with 27 inch tires on 14 inch aluminum wheels, provide a full 12 inches of ground clearance.
It comes standard with a digital speedometer and LED headlights and taillights. The Intimidator is available in OD Green with an MSRP of $15,399. There is also a Camo options available for an additional $550.
Hisun Sector E1
The Hisun Sector E1 is closer in size to the Intimidator at 62 inches wide, though it does have a shorter wheelbase. The 48-volt electric motor produces 27 hp and a whopping 220 lb-ft of torque.
Suspension is provided by dual A-arms front and rear. Suspension travel is 7 inches front and rear. It has selectable 2wd and 4wd, 26 inch tires and 14 inch aluminum wheels. Ground clearance is a respectable 11 inches on this UTV.
There is a standard dump bed with a 500 lb capacity and it can tow up to 1,500 lbs. The Hisun also comes with some other notable features not found on the competition. It has an analog speedometer and tachometer, as well as LCD information display.
It comes standard with a 3,500 lb winch, roof, and two piece windshield. It even has turn signals and a horn. This would be a fantastic machine for those in urban or residential areas. You can get the Hisun Sector E1 in Green or Camo. MSRP is $10,999 for the Green and $11,299 for the Camo version.
The Nikola NZT is the most advanced UTV in this guide and by far the most expensive. It’s 72 inches wide and has a 125 inch wheelbase to accommodate 4 passengers.
Power is provided by 4 separate 400-volt electric motors, one for each wheel. This allows the NZT to produce an insane 590 hp and 775 lb-ft of torque. That’s enough for a claimed 0-60 time of 4.0 seconds.
This is also the only UTV that utilizes lithium ion batteries to power the electric motors. It has selectable 2wd and 4wd, anti-lock brakes, and 35 inch DOT approved tires on 17 inch bead lock wheels.
Ground clearance is 12 inches, though the NZT has full underbody protection, should you run out of clearance. Suspension is a dual A-arm setup with Fox Podium 3.0 adjustable shocks with internal bypass, providing 18 inches of wheel travel at each corner.
This machine is intended more for travel or trail riding than work, as there is no dump bed. The NZT has a small compartment in the rear that can carry up to 400 lbs of gear and it has towing capacity of 3,000 lbs, twice the limit of most of the other UTVs in this guide.
It has LED headlights, taillights, and turn signals. Power steering is also standard, along with half doors. The 7 inch driver display provides the driver with ample information, but there’s also a 13 inch infotainment display with a host of features that would rival many automobiles.
This is truly a different class of UTV. It has more features, more power, more seating, and next level technology that put it in a class of its own.
All of this comes at a price, however, as the NZT has a price tag that starts at $80,000. It also has a curb weight of 5,250 lbs, which is more than some midsize pickup trucks. It’s great to see this type of technology being put in UTVs, but the price will put it out of reach for most prospective buyers.
Greenworks Commercial CU500
Known for their many electric powered lawn mowers, power tools and landscaping equipment Greenworks Commercial is also in the UTV game as well.
The CU500 Utility Vehicle is powered by an 82v electric motor and 13.8-kWh lithium-ion battery with a top speed of 27 MPH. The range is 36 miles in “H” drive mode and 43 miles in “M” drive mode.
It has a bed capacity of 330 lbs. and a tow rating of 1250 lbs. allowing this Side-by-Side to get plenty of work done. Selectable 4wd prevents the CU500 from getting stuck in loose or slick terrain.
Suspension is a dual a-arm setup in the front and rear providing 10″ of ground clearance. The width of 62″ helps it navigate narrower trails. Weight without the battery is 1543 lbs.
MSRP for the Greenworks CU 500 is $18,999.
Greenworks Commercial CU800
Greenworks also makes a slightly larger Side-by-Side with more towing and bed capacity, the CU800.
Power for the CU800 Utility Vehicle is also provided by an 82v electric motor and 13.8-kWh lithium-ion battery like the CU500. But the CU800 has a top speed of 29 MPH and a range of 61 miles in “H” drive mode and 75 miles in “M” drive mode.
Cargo bed capacity is 550 lbs. and towing capacity is 1500 lbs. Selectable 2wd, 4wd and a locking front differential provide increased traction when you need it.
Ground clearance is a welcomed 12″. The CU800 has a width of 61″ and dual a-arms front and rear with adjustable shocks in all four corners.
The weight without the battery is 1676 lbs. MSPR comes in at $26,999.
Can-Am Commander E LSV SE
There are many people that are in the market for an electric UTV, but don’t want to spend so much on a new model. There also may not be a new model that they truly like.
The Can-Am Commander E LSV SE is no longer offered by dealerships, but can potentially be found in the preowned marketplace. This machine was built on the original Commander platform. It’s 58.6 inches wide, has dual A-arm suspension up front and Can-Am’s Trailing Torsional Independent rear suspension.
Wheel travel is 10 inches at all four corners and ground clearance comes in at 11 inches. 26 inch Maxxis Ceros tires and 14 inch aluminum wheels are standard.
The big difference between the original Commander and the Commander E LSV SE is the power plant. The E LSV SE is powered by a single 48-volt electric motor producing 30 hp. It has a cargo bed capacity of 600 lbs and the towing capacity is rated at 1,500 lbs.
This UTV had an original MSRP of $19,399, but can now be had for much less on the used market.
Textron Prowler EV and EV IS
The Prowler EV and EV IS, like the Can-Am Commander, is no longer sold new, but can be found on the preowned market. At first glance, you will probably assume that the Prowler is simply a lifted golf cart, but that’s not really the case.
It shares some design similarities, but the Prowler is meant to work and get you to your location quietly. It has a 72-volt dual motor setup that produces a respectable 38 hp.
It’s only 53 inches wide, making it the smallest UTV on this list. At 1,685 lbs, the EV is also one of the lightest. The EV IS tips the scales at 1,710 lbs.
The biggest difference between the Prowler EV and Prowler EV IS, is the rear suspension. The EV has a solid rear axle and leaf springs, while the EV IS has a unique MacPherson strut setup to offer fully independent travel.
Both machines have MacPherson struts up front. 4wd is standard, as is 25 inch Carlisle Trail Pro tires mounted on 12 inch steel wheels. Ground clearance is listed at 10 inches for the EV and 9.5 inches for the EV IS.
It has a standard bench seat up front and rearward facing seat on the back that converts into a flat cargo area capable of hauling up to 400 lbs. Towing capacity for both models is 1,000 lbs.
MSRP for the Prowler EV was originally $10,499, while the EV IS listed for $13,499. While no longer available as a new model, prospective buyers can find great deals on preowned Prowlers.
Is an Electric UTV right for you?
It’s difficult to predict the future of electric UTVs, but it’s obvious that there’s a market for them. Many hunters prefer electric vehicles to get to their blinds undetected.
Others may live in a residential area where the noise and fumes from a gas powered UTV would be frowned upon. There may also be some people that simply want to do their part to reduce pollution. Whatever the reason, there are some good options available.
Prospective buyers will have to evaluate their intended uses and determine if an electric UTV is the right choice for them. If they travel miles and miles away from civilization or they prefer high speed trail riding or desert running, a gas powered UTV may be a better option.
Electric UTVs thrive in residential and urban environments, but they are also capable enough for light farm and ranch use. As long as the owner keeps in mind the limitations of the battery packs that power these vehicles, it will serve them well and do so noise and fume free!