Utility terrain vehicles (UTVs) have seen a surge in popularity in recent years for outdoor recreation and rugged tasks. Also known as side-by-sides, these light 4-wheeled vehicles provide more power and capabilities than ATVs. While most UTVs still have gas engines, electric models are catching on for their smooth, quiet operation and zero emissions.
Electric UTVs bring the advantages of EV technology to the trail, farm, ranch and more. They allow driving off-road, through brush or on beaches without engine noise or fumes. For hunting and fishing, their stealthy electric motors won‘t startle wildlife. Electric UTVs provide instant torque for excellent driving performance with far less maintenance than gas models.
Many new electric UTV options are coming to market in 2023. Here are 10 of the most exciting electric side-by-sides and details to help find the right match for your needs.
Brief History of UTVs
UTVs emerged in the late 1990s as a new segment blending attributes of ATVs and lightweight trucks. Early models like the Kawasaki Mule and John Deere Gator offered small pickup-style bodies on 4-wheel ATV frames, providing hauling capabilities beyond ATVs.
By the early 2000s, brands like Polaris entered the market with greater focus on recreational rather than utility use. Models like the Polaris Ranger and RZR pioneered performance-oriented trail riding UTVs with features like more powerful engines, improved suspension and rollcages.
The UTV market exploded in size and diversification over the following decades. Today UTVs range from basic utility work models to high-performance sport side-by-sides built for dune-riding and racing. Global UTV sales reached over 1 million units in 2021 and are projected to grow to over 1.6 million by 2030.
The Rise of Electric UTVs
While gas-powered UTVs still dominate, electric models are claiming a small but growing corner of the market. Polaris released the first commercially successful electric UTV in 2010 – the Ranger EV. It provided a quiet, zero-emission utility UTV option.
Demand for electric side-by-sides is driven by environmental benefits, lower maintenance, and advantages like their silent operation. Electric UTVs forgo oil changes, air filters, engine tune-ups and offer smoother performance with instant torque. Most electric UTVs currently max out around 50 miles range, but longer-range models exceeding 100 miles per charge are coming to market.
Key Specs for Electric UTV Models
When evaluating electric UTVs, here are some of the most important performance factors and features to consider:
- Range – How far the UTV can drive on a full battery charge. 30-60 miles is common, with 100+ mile range emerging on premium models.
- Power – Combination of horsepower and torque. More power improves acceleration, hauling and towing abilities. 30-100+ hp is typical.
- Charging time – How quickly the battery can recharge. Most fully recharge in 4-12 hours on Level 2 or fast charging.
- Top speed – Maximum speed attainable. 25-60 mph is the range for most electric UTVs. High-performance models may exceed 60 mph.
- Payload capacity – Max cargo weight the bed can carry. 500-1,500 lbs is standard depending on vehicle size.
- Towing capacity – Max trailer weight the vehicle can tow. Typically 1,000-3,000 lbs for electric UTVs.
- Seating – Most electric UTVs seat 2, some fit 3-4 passengers. More seats add passenger versatility.
- Drive system – Important for traction. 4-wheel drive is ideal, with available low-range gears even better.
Now let‘s look at 10 exciting new electric UTV models coming for 2023.
1. Vanderhall Electric Brawley
The Vanderhall Electric Brawley stands out as a stylish, high-performance electric trail UTV. Made by Vanderhall, a Utah-based maker of three-wheeled EVs, the Brawley has a unique enclosed body style reminiscent of a miniature SUV.
With its all-electric AWD powertrain, the Brawley packs a whopping 300 hp and 360 lb-ft torque. That powers this UTV from 0-60 mph in just 4 seconds – rivaling many sports cars! It has a top speed of 80 mph and capacities of 1,100 lbs payload and 1,100 lbs towing.
The Brawley provides up to 200 miles of range, far surpassing most electric UTVs today. That enables venturing deep into the backcountry without range anxiety. Vanderhall aims this electric side-by-side more for dune-riding and high-speed recreation rather than utility use. Pricing starts at $34,950.
2. Polaris Ranger EV
As the pioneer of electric UTVs, Polaris offers both the standard Ranger EV and new Ranger XP Kinetic EV models in 2023. The classic Ranger EV provides capable, affordable electric utility in a familiar gas Ranger package.
It runs for up to 45 miles on a charge, reaching 25 mph. With 1,000 lbs payload and 1,500 lbs towing capacity plus a dump bed, it tackles everyday work or recreation needs. Ultra-quiet EV operation keeps hunting and camping trips peaceful. At $11,999, it‘s among the most affordable electric UTVs available.
3. Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic EV
New for 2023, the Ranger XP Kinetic EV delivers more extreme electric trail performance from Polaris. This high-output electric Ranger reaches 60 mph with 110 hp and 140 lb-ft torque on tap – strong specs for an electric UTV today. It also tows an impressive 2,500 lbs.
With its 14.9 kWh battery, the Kinetic matches the standard Ranger EV‘s 45 mile range. But the new Ultimate trim extends range to 80 miles. Improved charging capabilities also help make longer distances more feasible. The Kinetic EV starts around $29,999.
4. Nikola Reckless EV
Nikola Motors makes some of the most radical electric trucks and UTVs around. The Reckless EV UTV lives up to its name with outlandish speed and power. Nikola claims it will reach 60 mph in just 4 seconds thanks to a 120 kWh battery producing up to 600 hp and 775 lb-ft torque!
The Reckless EV also provides excellent range of up to 150 miles per charge. And it‘s designed to handle tough terrain with 35-inch tires, 20 inches minimum ground clearance, and 10 inches of suspension travel. No price has been announced yet for this over-the-top electric UTV.
5. HuntVe Game Changer EV
Texas-based HuntVe offers the 4-seat Game Changer EV side-by-side with solid electric trail abilities. Dual motors give it 38 hp for a 25 mph top speed and 45 mile range – on par with early electric UTV offerings. But robust construction including a steel frame and skid plates prepare it for off-road use.
The Game Changer EV carries up to 950 pounds in its cargo bed and can tow 1,200 pounds. With seating for 4 and good payload capacities for an electric UTV, it works well for hunting and fishing trips. Pricing starts at $16,999.
6. Greenworks Commercial U500SB
Greenworks applies its experience making electric outdoor power tools to the U500SB utility side-by-side. This compact 2-seater UTV has a top speed of just 27 mph but can travel 40 miles on a charge – notably further than some rivals.
It stands out for its 1,250 pound towing capacity that rivals mid-size gas UTVs. And Greenworks offers the option of a front-mounted hitch for attachments like snowplows. With working strengths but slower speed, it‘s best suited to private land rather than trail riding. The $13,999 starting price is on the affordable end for electric UTVs.
7. Intimidator Classic EV
Known for its gas-powered UTVs built for hunting and farming, Intimidator launched the new Classic EV in 2022. This 2-seat electric UTV can travel 35 miles on a charge and reach 23 mph. With 1,200 pound payload capacity and 2,500 pound tow rating, it takes on tough utility jobs.
The Classic EV uses steel heavy-duty components like its safety cage frame, cargo bed and skid plates for protection from rugged use. A locking rear differential improves traction in poor conditions. Pricing isn‘t cheap at close to $20,000, but this is a more rugged electric UTV option.
8. Lance Harbor 200EV
California-based Lance Camper recently entered the UTV market with the capable Harbor 200EV utility side-by-side. It‘s among the few electric UTVs with 4-wheel independent suspension for a smoother off-road ride. And it can haul heavy loads with 1,200 lb bed capacity and 2,000 lb tow rating.
The Harbor 200EV is powered by a 60 hp electric motor providing 195 lb-ft torque. It reaches top speeds of 45 mph and runs for up to 200 miles on a charge – one of the highest ranges available. Prices start at $19,399 for this unique electric UTV with workhorse abilities.
9. Volcon Grunt EV
The Volcon Grunt takes a minimalist approach focused on lightness and efficiency. Without doors or a rear seat, this nimble electric UTV weighs just 990 pounds. The mid-mounted motor contributes to a low center of gravity for confident trail handling.
It reaches 60 mph and runs for 100 miles per charge – leading specs among current production electric UTVs. With 300 pounds payload and 1,100 pounds towing, its capacities suit lighter weekend recreation rather than ranch work. Just $5,999 makes this one of the most affordable electric UTV options.
10. Can-Am Commander EV
Can-Am will join the electric UTV market with its upcoming Commander EV. Set to launch in 2023, Can-Am hasn‘t revealed full details yet. But we know this 2-seat side-by-side will feature modern EV power promising "industry-leading torque and instant response."
The Can-Am Commander EV will likely share the gas model‘s reputation for high-performance trail use. Expect strong acceleration and handling with ample cargo and towing abilities. Availability and pricing remain to be announced for this promising electric UTV.
Evolution of Electric UTV Technology
Electric UTV technology has improved by leaps and bounds over the past decade. Early models like the 2010 Polaris Ranger EV had lead-acid batteries providing only 30 hp and range of 25-50 miles.
Newer lithium-ion battery packs enable 2-4x greater range. Motors now often produce 100+ hp and abundant torque for excellent acceleration. Charging times have dropped from nearly 24 hours on 110V to as little as 3-5 hours on 240V fast charging. And high-performance sport models like the Nikola Reckless hint at a high-powered electric UTV future.
Continued battery and motor tech advancements will likely bring 200+ mile ranges in coming model years. This could make electric UTVs feasible for longer expeditions away from charging ports. Faster DC fast charging will also minimize downtime between outings.
Electric UTV Ownership Considerations
Electric UTVs offer huge benefits, but also differ from gas models in some key ways. Here are tips for evaluating if an EV UTV fits your needs:
- Consider your range needs. How far do you typically drive in a day? Max range per charge is less than gas models, so plan charging stops on longer trips
- Capabilities should still match needs. Towing/payload limits, seating, etc still vary greatly between electric UTV models.
- Home charging is ideal. Install a NEMA 14-50 outlet in your garage for fastest Level 2 charging.
- Range anxiety fades over time as you learn capabilities. Take a few shorter trips first to gain experience.
- DC fast charging further from home can extend travels. Some models charge quickly at compatible stations.
- Monitor battery SOC closely to avoid stranding. Plan stops ahead of 0% charge.
- Prevent towing range dropping 50% or more. Go light on cargo in bed with heavy trailers.
Operating Electric UTVs Safely
While quiet and easy to drive, electric UTVs have some unique safety considerations:
- Silent operation requires extra rider attention to avoid startling pedestrians, riders or animals on trails
- New riders should take time to become accustomed to instant electric motor torque
- Always gear up with helmets, eye protection and other safety equipment – even more essential due to UTV speed/power
- Respect all local UTV riding regulations, ride only in approved areas
- Avoid getting stuck in muddy conditions that can quickly deplete battery charge
- Know capabilities and terrain conditions to prevent rollovers – the #1 cause of UTV accidents
Aftermarket EV UTV Mods & Accessories
EV UTV owners can further customize their rides through aftermarket parts:
- Tires – Upgrade to more aggressive all-terrain or mud tires for traction
- Wheels – Larger diameter wheels provide more ground clearance
- Suspension lifts – Raise vehicle height for clearing obstacles
- Skid plates – Protect vulnerable low-hanging EV components
- Doors – Keep passengers safer and dryer through poor weather
- Lighting – Improve night vision with LED light bars and spotlights
- Winches – Essential rescue tool for the trail – can also recharge battery
- Bumpers – Steel bumpers protect vehicle ends from impacts
- Sound system – Bluetooth speakers make ride even more enjoyable
Comparing Ownership Costs: EV vs Gas UTV
Electric UTVs currently carry higher purchase prices, but offer big savings over time:
- Fuel – Electricity costs ~75% less than gas for same distance traveled
- Maintenance – Far fewer fluids, filters, spark plugs, etc to replace
- Brakes – Regenerative braking preserves pads and rotors
- Noise – No loud exhaust to eventually develop cracks
- Engine – No large engine components to rebuild/replace
These savings mean total cost of ownership over 5-10 years is often lower for electric UTVs. And as battery costs keep decreasing, purchase price gap will also narrow.
Environmental Benefits of Electric UTVs
Electric UTVs are much greener than gas models. According to EPA figures, gasoline-powered UTVs emit over 13 lbs of CO2 per gallon consumed. Just 30 gallons of gas burned creates almost 400 lbs of CO2 emissions.
Meanwhile electric UTVs emit zero tailpipe emissions. Even charging on the dirtiest US electric grid still equates to under 4 lbs CO2 per 100 miles – 10x less than a gas UTV. But charged on solar or wind power, carbon footprint is near zero.
Electric motors also don‘t produce air and noise pollution disturbing parks, hunting areas and neighborhoods. As UTV recreation grows, electric models help protect the great outdoors.
Electrifying the Trail
Electric UTVs are bringing quiet, eco-friendly power to trails, farms, resorts and communities. Models coming in 2023 provide more range, speed and capabilities than ever – alternatives to gas no longer require big compromises.
While purchase prices are still higher, electric UTVs offer a modern performance driving experience without noisy, high-maintenance engines. As battery technology keeps improving, they will work for more applications with less range anxiety or charging waits.
The future looks bright for electrifying the trail. Drivers today can enjoy a sneak peek driving some of the most exciting electric UTVs yet produced. The off-road world is embarking on an electric revolution, providing access to the natural world with less impact. Electric UTVs ultimately promise greener journeys into the wild for many years ahead.