Polaris and Zero Motorcycles reach deal to bring electric off-roaders to market

Polaris is a name synonymous with powersports — just head to any of the hundreds of snowmobile trails in Wisconsin, Minnesota or other sufficiently wintry place for evidence. Now, it’s teaming up with Zero Motorcycles, Santa Cruz-based maker of electric motorcycles and powertrains, to electrify its lineup.

The two companies announced Tuesday a 10-year agreement to work together to produce electrified off-road vehicles and snowmobiles using Zero’s powertrain technology, hardware and software. Polaris will develop, manufacture and sell the vehicles.

The companies will co-develop the technologies and vehicle platforms for this next generation of electrified powersports, according to Zero Motorcycles CEO Sam Paschel, adding that the aim is to dramatically expand the electric options currently in the market.

“Our EV expertise and millions of miles of real-world, rubber-meets-the-road EV experience, coupled with Polaris’ broad product portfolio, scale, supply chain and market leadership, makes this a game-changer for every powersports enthusiast,” Paschel said in a statement. 

Polaris already has several electric options in its portfolio, thanks to a series of acquisitions its made over the past decade. In 2011, the company acquired Goupil, a French manufacturer of on-road, commercial light duty electric vehicles for the European market as well as GEM, the street-legal passenger and utility electric vehicle company. Polaris more recently acquired Brammo Electric Motorcycles, a purchase that gave the company access to technology that would later be used in its Ranger EV off-road vehicles.

This latest deal aims to create a broader portfolio of products, not just one-offs. Polaris said the partnership will be the cornerstone of “rEV’D up,” the name of its long-term strategy to offer customers an electrified option within each of its core product segments by 2025. The first vehicle from this Zero-Polaris partnership will debut by the end of 2021.

“Thanks to advancements in power, pricing and performance over the last several years, and with customer interest surging, now is the right time for Polaris, with Zero Motorcycles as a key strategic partner, to implement our rEV’d up initiative and aggressively accelerate our position in powersports electrification,” Polaris CEO and Chairman Scott Wine said in a statement. Wine boasted the partnership will enable Polaris to “leapfrog technological hurdles around range and cost while providing a tremendous speed-to-market advantage.”