World’s First Electric Snowmobile Designed in Onshape
Michael Alba posted on April 26, 2018 |
The Taiga TS2 electric snowmobile. (Image courtesy of Taiga Motors.)
The Taiga TS2 electric snowmobile. (Image courtesy of Taiga Motors.)

At this point, it’s clear that electric vehicles (EVs) are the way of the future. It’s not just Tesla anymore—every major automotive OEM has their own EV or hybrid EV in the works. More and more customers are ditching their dino-powered combustion engines in favor of EVs.

But what about recreational vehicles? In the case of snowmobiles, the combustion engine has remained the predominant paradigm. But Taiga Motors, a recent startup, is aiming to change that: its Taiga TS2 electric snowmobile, currently on pre-order,is the world’s first commercially available electric snowmobile.

“The snowmobile that we build is the highest performance electric snowmobile anywhere,” said Paul Achard, one of Taiga Motors’ co-founders. “Some would argue maybe the highest performance snowmobile, given the torque and power figures that we’re outputting.”

A High-performance Philosophy

Design of the Taiga TS2. (Image courtesy of Taiga Motors.)
Design of the Taiga TS2. (Image courtesy of Taiga Motors.)

While electric snowmobiles besides Taiga’s have been developed, none of them have moved beyond the initial prototype phase.

“At the time when we started in 2015, you really couldn't buy an electric snowmobile anywhere,” Achard said.“Even today we’re still the only ones who are getting onto the market. None of our competitors have risen up to the challenge yet. So that’s our claim to fame, to be commercializing the first electric snowmobile.”

By the sounds of it, the Taiga TS2 is an impressive debut for commercial electric snowmobiles.Just check out thesespecs:

  • 0 to 60mph (100km/h) in under 3 seconds
  • 250Nm torque
  • <500lbs fully loaded
  • Range of ~100km (moderate to favorable conditions)
  • Charge time:
    • 30 minutes (DC-DC fast charge)
    • 2 hours (240V outlet
    • 7 hours (120V outlet)

“Our product philosophy is to build a very high-performance vehicle with no emissions that’s also reasonably affordable to everyday consumers,” said Achard. “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback on the prototype. Everyone who’s tried it out has been overwhelmingly positive about the experience. We’ve come off the demonstration phase and we’re really gearing up to get into production.”

Deciding on Onshape

Designing a ski in Onshape. (Image courtesy of Onshape.)
Designing a ski in Onshape. (Image courtesy of Onshape.)

When Achard and his co-founders began designing their snowmobile, they were using a single license of SOLIDWORKS to do their modeling work. When it came time to expand and hire new people, they wanted to evaluate their CAD options.

“We were keeping an eye on cost, but also keeping an eye on what our IT requirements would be moving forward,” Achard explained.“Initially we hadn’t seriously considered Onshape. I had goofed around with it because it looked interesting, but it didn’t really seem like a serious contender to the SOLIDWORKS’ and Autodesks of this world.”

But after a couple months of playing around with Onshape, what really impressed him was the speed with which Onshape was pushing updates.

“A year-and-a-half ago, one of the big lacking features was there was no sheet metal,” Achard said.“I saw that they were able to push that out within a couple months, and even start pushing out updates to that.”

Seeing Onshape’s quick trajectory, the Taiga team decided to lean into Onshape as their primary CAD software. Since then, Onshape has continued to add major improvements: features like configurations and standard content in their vision of Parametric Modeling 2.0, and features like simultaneous BOMs and formal release management in their vision of Design Data Management 2.0. The rapid rate of updates is one of the reasons Achard considers the decision to use Onshape as “a gamble that paid off.”Another reason, according to Achard, is the ease of maintenance in Onshape.

“From an IT standpoint, we don't need any extra personnel to keep an eye on managing our CAD licensing,” he said. “All the updates are done automatically, so it’s essentially a brainless process to keep Onshape running for everyone.”

And then there’s the hardware aspect. Since Onshape runs entirely in the cloud, Taiga is saved the burden of expensive hardware investments.

“We’re pretty much all running on laptops,” Achard said. “We have gaming GPUs, but we don’t need to be running everybody off desktops with Quadros or anything like that.”

CAD from the Ground Up

The Taiga TS2 was created with Onshape. (Image courtesy of Taiga Motors.)
The Taiga TS2 was created with Onshape. (Image courtesy of Taiga Motors.)

Despite Achard’s initial reservations about Onshape not being comparable to the bigger CAD providers, he now believes Onshape meets the standard set by other options.

“From an actual CADing standpoint, the solid modeling features are pretty much on par with what we’d have with SOLIDWORKS or other software,” he said.“As far as assemblies, same thing. I’ve had no complaints with assemblies in Onshape versus SOLIDWORKS.”

In fact, Achard goes so far as to say that Onshape has a distinct advantage over its CAD competitors: its philosophy.

“If it’s not as good as the other software out there, it’s better because what they’ve been trying to do is look at CAD from the ground up,” he said. “What are the end results, and what do they need to change from a basic conceptual standpoint in order for those tools to be developed appropriately? I guess that means sometimes it takes longer to push up these features, but once they’re there, it’s so much easier to use.”

Achard gave the example of one of Onshape’s newest features, simultaneous BOMs. In Onshape, assemblies and bills of materials (BOMs) are associatively linked rather than the BOM being akin to a report generated after the fact.

“We started using the BOM management stuff pretty much immediately because that lets you pull out the BOM from within the assembly environment and easily modify properties from there,” Achard said. “I think that’s been a super nice upgrade. I remember using SOLIDWORKS, and it was pretty hard to just pull out a part number without opening a part, pulling up the properties, and copying and pasting. So this definitely makes that kind of stuff a lot easier.”

Dashing Through the Snow

The electric Taiga TS2 in action. (Image courtesy of Taiga Motors.)
The electric Taiga TS2 in action. (Image courtesy of Taiga Motors.)

When it comes down to it, your CAD software of choice is nothing more than a tool that helps you engineer your ideas into a reality. And just as with any other tool, you want to pick the option that serves you best. For Achard and Taiga Motors, that tool is Onshape. And for motorsport lovers, that tool might just be the Taiga TS2.

To learn more about Taiga Motors and the Taiga TS2, visit Taiga’s website.

Onshape has sponsored this post. They have no editorial input to this post. Unless otherwise stated, all opinions are mine. —Michael Alba


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