Are Off-Road Vehicles Like Jeeps Becoming Electric?

By May 12, 2020 Blog
off-road electric vehicle charging points

off-road electric vehicle charging points

Today you can drive the length and breadth of the continental United States road network in an electric car. But what about off-road electric vehicles? We don’t mean golf carts or buggies limited to smooth turf and dirt trails. We mean serious off-road vehicles, like trucks, ATVs, and UTVs—vehicles capable of handling rough terrain, steep inclines, and lots of mud.

It wasn’t long ago that this market simply didn’t exist. But the times are beginning to change, and we think that off-road electric cars, trucks, and ATVs / UTVs now have a viable future ahead of them. So today in the EV Connect Blog, we’re looking at what this means for businesses and local governments who provide EV charging infrastructure and services.

The Off-Road Electric Vehicle Market

off-road electric cars

The traditional “on-road” EV market is still young and growing. Nevertheless, these days it’s fair to say that just about everyone who wants an electric vehicle for the road is going to be able to find one they like, at a price they can afford.

The reasons for this are clear: throughout the 2010s, electric vehicles made big gains in reliability, price competitiveness, and operating range. They inherently offer great acceleration and handling and can boast a much better environmental footprint than vehicles with gas or diesel engines. They require far less maintenance and are much cheaper in terms of lifetime fueling costs. And there are strong financial incentives for buying electric.

All of these benefits apply to off-road electric vehicles as well, yet the market for off-road EVs is still in its formative stage. That’s mainly because the off-road vehicle market just isn’t as big, so the development of off-road electric vehicles lagged. Just a few short years ago, there were virtually zero off-road electric cars or trucks, other than a handful of offerings with tiny production runs, huge price tags, and a lot of design problems.

Lack of Remote Charging Infrastructure

But it isn’t just the smaller size of the market that has delayed the development and adoption of off-road EVs: EVs need a place to plug in, yet rural areas are pretty much the “final frontier” for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. In these regions, EV charging facilities are far less common, making it harder or even completely infeasible to operate EVs.

Now that manufacturers are finally developing and building desirable off-road electric vehicles, the time is right to supply new EV charging infrastructure so that the value proposition for off-road EVs isn’t limited by the lack of a place to plug in.

What’s Being Built Today?

In 2020, there are many off-road electric vehicles already in production or going into production in the very near future, and many more are in advanced stages of development.

Where off-road EVs are concerned, the market is still limited mainly to light-duty ATVs such as those produced by Venom Motorsports, or medium-duty ATVs like those made by DRR. There are no full-scale off-road electric vehicles available yet.

Upcoming Developments

However, this is all about to change in a big way: The manufacturer Rivian is going to begin production of all-electric pickup trucks and SUVs later this year. Nikola has designed the first heavy-duty all-electric UTV, the 590-horsepower NZT, with the earliest deliveries scheduled for 2021. Tesla’s much-anticipated Cybertruck is expected to begin production late in 2021. Lordstown Motors and Bollinger are also well into the development stages of their own full-scale off-road electric vehicles. And that’s just to name a few! Over the next five years, we are going to see a massive expansion in the availability of off-road electric cars and trucks, including offerings from big names like Ford and GM.

Of course, with an EV manufacturer, you should never count your eggs before they hatch. Many of these companies don’t make it to the delivery stage, and sometimes their products are a disappointment. And the coronavirus pandemic and the economic shock it is causing are likely to disrupt and delay the entire automobile sector.

Nevertheless, the industry fundamentals for off-road electric vehicles remain sound. Even if a few specific manufacturers go out of business, or don’t end up delivering a quality product, the industry as a whole absolutely will.

Why Off-Road Electric Cars and Trucks Matter to Businesses and Local Governments

Electric vehicles need access to electrical charging stations. That’s why, to serve the emerging off-road electric vehicle market, we’re seeing growth in new ROI opportunities for businesses and governments who install EV charging infrastructure on their existing parking lots. Providing this infrastructure directly relieves local bottlenecks in the growth of the off-road electric vehicle market, and also expands the national market’s viability into more remote areas.

As off-road EVs get better, we’re also seeing new opportunities for government agencies (such as parks services), along with municipal and corporate fleets, to switch their existing off-road vehicles to electric to realize the long-term cost savings in maintenance and operations, as well as the net-positive environmental impact.

Charging Infrastructure Requires Effective Network Management

Both of these applications—parking lot ROI opportunities and fleet conversions—require the installation of EV charging infrastructure and the deployment of network solutions for managing that infrastructure effectively.

This is EV Connect’s core business, and it applies for both the on-road and off-road electric vehicle markets: Our charging station solutions give you powerful, customizable, fully-managed remote control over your charging facilities. With EV Connect, you can:

  • Monitor your charging network’s status and operations.
  • Detect hardware faults and other problems.
  • Handle electronic payment and adjust prices according to time, date, and demand.
  • Connect EV drivers to EV charging points in their area with our Driver App.

And you can do it all from a single point. Together with our EV Cloud Platform, our platform-as-a-service offering, you can create and deploy a custom-branded EV charging network tailored to your specific needs.

Let EV Connect Help You Get Started

The trends are pretty clear: It may take a while, but the future is going electric. That includes off-road electric cars, trucks, ATVs and UTVs, and buggies. So if your business has parking lots in remote areas where off-roading is a popular activity, or if you have your own fleet of off-road vehicles and are interested in the advantages of going electric, then 2020 is the year to take a close look at the pending growth in the size and quality of the off-road electric vehicle market, and make plans for the future.

Installing EV charging infrastructure has its own financial incentives. In addition, there are several pipelines of federal emergency funding available to businesses due to the coronavirus pandemic. If it makes sense at your property, now is a good time to start investing in EV charging equipment.

Contact EV Connect today to get the conversation started. We can help explain the ROI opportunities and other advantages so that you can make an informed decision about whether installing EV charging equipment makes sense for you.

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