Without knowing it, this summer, you may have come across one of the future electric motorcycles from Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP) in Montreal or Sherbrooke.
A few lucky ones had the chance to try out BRP prototypes in Quebec while others did so in France and Spain.
“We do this incognito. Obviously, we take all precautions to keep everything secret and that people do not suspect what we are testing, but we will look for a lot of feedback with users and ourselves, it allows us to experience the products in a real context to prepare for marketing ”, tells the Newspaper Denys Lapointe, Senior Vice-President of Design and Innovation at BRP.
In Valcourt, BRP is currently recruiting 16 engineers and other electrification specialists, which will double its workforce in the field.
“We are a little in start-up mode,” sums up Christian Nolin, team leader for the development of electric vehicles and propulsion.
“We help define the architecture of future projects and products, so it’s a super motivating environment,” he adds.
In Las Vegas last year, BRP showcased electric two-wheeled motorcycle, three-wheeled motorcycle and personal watercraft concepts. No launch date has yet been publicly communicated.
However, two months ago, the great rival of BRP, the American Polaris, increased the pressure by announcing a partnership with his compatriot Zero, nicknamed the “Tesla of motorcycles”. Polaris plans to launch its first electric off-road vehicle by the end of 2021 and electric products in each of its major segments by 2025.
Additionally, Harley-Davidson’s first electric motorcycle, the LiveWire, hit the market over a year ago. And in Quebec, the young company Taïga Motors has recently offered electric snowmobiles and personal watercraft.
Not lagging behind
Mr. Lapointe does not believe that BRP is lagging behind. “We have a lot of great things coming up and we will probably surprise people in all kinds of niches, because there are also new product architectures we are working on,” he says. .
For now, BRP is focused on optimizing electrical technologies for recreational products rather than developing a specific vehicle.
However, last year, the company filed for a patent for an expandable electric motorcycle capable of transporting goods. One of its inventors is a designer from BRP who notably worked at Peugeot Motocycles in France.
To save time, BRP last year acquired the assets of Alta Motors, a bankrupt US maker of electric off-road motorcycles.
“This is a bit of the mandate we currently have: define what that means, electrification. This is clearly not the same recipe Tesla applies to the automobile. […] When things are well defined, we will be able to move forward to truly electrify product lines, ”explains Mr. Nolin.
The challenge for BRP is to give thrill-seekers as much satisfaction with electric products as with combustion vehicles.
What would Joseph-Armand Bombardier think of all this? “Avant-garde as he was, I think he would see that with a good eye,” says Denys Lapointe.
BRP’s first steps in electricity
1996 : Unveiling of the Neighborhood Electric Vehicle (NEV)
2010 : Launch of the electric version of the Commander vehicle
2016 : Unveiling of an electric Spyder motorcycle prototype
2017 : Launch of an electric kart