Taiga Motors Corp., the LaSalle, Que.-based makes of electric snowmobiles and jet skis, might be one of the few Canadian companies actually benefiting from skyrocketing fuel prices.
“We are seeing that the increased fuel prices are actually leading to more demand from the buyer side,” said CEO Sam Bruneau. “Rental fleets and resorts and ski hills – this is encouraging them to switch to electric.”
Taiga, which sold the world’s first electric snowmobiles in March, announced this week that it had delivered the first of its Orca personal watercraft to Canadian clients. The company plans to start filling orders from the United States later this year. Bruneau said the water scooters were even better received than the snowmobiles, perhaps because Taiga’s machines don’t come with whiny engines that pollute lakes with noise and gasoline fumes.
“It’s quiet and it doesn’t pollute,” Bruneau said. “We really hit the brief there,” he added. “Everyone loves the experience out on the water.”
Taiga is seeing sustained demand from new buyers since it currently has no competitors in the electric powersport market. But Taiga is still grappling with a challenge familiar to most, if not all, electric-vehicle manufacturers: price. The Orca starts at US$17,490, or about $22,960 CAD, putting it on par with higher-end gas-powered water scooters. (The cost of a jet ski can range from anywhere between US$5,000 to US$20,000 USD, on average.)
Taiga Motors, which aims to be the Tesla of powersports, starts delivery of its Nomad snowmobiles
Taiga Motors is hiring ‘full-throttle’ as electric snowmobile maker reaches milestone
Taiga’s new deal turns up the throttle on the electric snowmobile dream
François-Philippe Champagne, the federal industry minister, said he was pleased to see that Taiga had begun Orca deliveries. “Our government has always been a champion for a greener economy,” he said in a press release. “We will continue to support Canadian businesses that are on the cutting-edge of green innovation – it’s good for the economy, the environment, and Canadians.”
Taiga’s growth might be impeded by the Bank of Canada’s effort to raise interest rates, underlined by this week’s rate hike of 100 basis points.
“Short term, we’re not really going to see any direct impacts for ourselves. We’re going to need to see what happens in the long term,” said Bruneau. The construction of their new manufacturing facility could be affected, because it could increase their borrowing rates. “And of course, with lines of credit for inventory and such, we’re going to see a bit of an impact there,” he said.
However, market fluctuations have little bearing on the intrinsic value of the product, said Bruneau. “We’ve proven the product works,” he said. “The concept works. You can do electric powersport vehicles that are as good or better than any combustion one out there.”