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E-Snowmobile Amps Up Recreation Tech

E-bikes blazed the trail, now Envo SnowKart follows suit for winter sports

3 min read

A smiling blonde woman in a helmet and snow gear rides a black and red snowmobile.
Envo Drive Systems

Boats, bicycles, and motorcycles. Waterfoils, scooters, and Segways. There seems to be no limit on imaginative, electrified modes of transportation, mainly from scrappy start-ups with big dreams.

The latest is aimed at winter-wonderland fans, and it’s called the Envo SnowKart. Appropriately, it hails from British Columbia, Canada, from Burnaby-based Envo Drive Systems, a company that’s developed a wide array of electrified micromobility machines.

“It’s designed to be a safe, recreational product for all ages. It’s definitely fun, but it won’t hurt you.” —M. Haseeb Javed, Envo Drive Systems

The SnowKart is designed in simplified, modular form that’s ideal for DIY types: A welded frame, a pair of electrified snow tracks at the rear, a seat and lockable storage box, handlebars with a thumb throttle, and a single ski up front. The entire package weighs only 45 kilograms, or about 100 pounds.

Side view of a snowmobile with treaded wheels and a bucket seatEnvo Drive Systems

A pair of brushless, geared DC motors generate 1,500 watts of continuous power (and a maximum 3,000 watts) and 120 newton meters of torque. Power runs through an aluminum drive unit—machined with computer precision—wrapped in snowmobile-style rubber treads reinforced with Kevlar. A five-inch LCD display monitors vehicle controls and status.

M. Haseeb Javed, Envo’s engineering supervisor, said the motors also perform e-brake functions via a cutoff signal activated through dual brake levers. Since the dual rear treads can’t be angled, the SnowKart turns like a military tank or tractor, via differences in speed between the treads: Just squeeze the brake lever to hang a left, and the opposite lever for a right-hander.

Top speed on flat ground is 20 kilometers per hour, a number that seems to beg for pushing the envelope via a downhill slope. That’s a long way from high-powered snowmobiles that deliver up to 200 horsepower, and crank to top speeds of 210 kilometers per hour (130 miles per hour) or more. But the SnowKart is cleaner, quieter and far more affordable at $5,879 Canadian dollars, or about U.S. $4,370.

“It might not seem an exhilarating speed, but it’s designed to be a safe, recreational product for all ages,” Javed said. “It’s definitely fun, but it won’t hurt you.”

The company says the SnowKart can negotiate a 20-degree grade. It’s designed as workhorse as well, with a 181-kilogram (400-pound) towing capacity, making it useful for hauling firewood, equipping with a small plow, or other winter chores. Buyers can choose either single- or dual-battery versions with 18650 cylindrical cells from LG or Panasonic. Each battery brings 48 volts, 17.5 ampere-hours, and 840 watt-hours. As with many e-bikes, the batteries can detach for portable charging via a common 120-volt household outlet. Each battery comes with a separate charger, and refills take roughly 2 to 6 hours, depending on state-of-charge. The company doesn’t cite official range numbers, but Javed said the SnowKart can typically run from 2 to 3 hours.

Envo Drive Systems was founded in a small Vancouver apartment in 2015 by Ali Kazemkhani, a mechanical engineer who kick-started a career in e-mobility by patenting a universal e-bike conversion kit in 2002. The SnowKart is sister to the Flex SnowBike, another clever contraption that combines pedal-assisted exercise with a single-tread rear drive unit. Both electrified snow bunnies are among a range of Envo micromobility machines, including e-bikes, scooters, a Hydra water bike, and conversion kits. The company is now showing off its new Utility Personal Transporter platform that can spawn a miniature car, ATV, or truck for hauling, snowplowing, or other applications.

“Anything smaller than a conventional car, we make it,” Javed said.

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