Every day you hear more and more about electric cars, electric scooters—electric everything. While some people run for the hills when they hear that electric hum, others pine for the perfect electric future where vehicles deliver performance, convenience, and value. The Nikola NZT aims to bring battery-driven power to the luxury sport UTV market.
While electric UTVs have been around almost as long as the UTV itself, there hasn’t been that one battery-laden vehicle that makes sense for the off-road market. The electric vehicle manufacturer, Nikola, is looking to make the first true enthusiast electric UTV—and what they’re promising sounds awesome.
Electric UTVs are nothing new and every major manufacturer has taken a stab at them. Polaris has the Ranger EV, Textron had the Prowler EV, and Can-Am had the Commander E LSV for a few years. Even Honda is starting to dip their toes in with an all-electric Pioneer concept vehicle that they teased earlier this year.
These electric UTVs have some major limitations. They typically have top speeds of less than thirty miles per hour, their maximum range is limited to around 60 miles in ideal conditions, and they take a long time to recharge.
These vehicles are basically glorified golf carts which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You can’t use them for the typical mod bogging, rock crawling, or dune riding that you often think of when you think “UTV”, but that’s not what they’re built for. They’re great for hunters, groundskeepers, and landowners that just want something quiet and efficient to get the job done.
Whatever reason someone has for buying an electric UTV, it’s probably not a good enough reason for you, beloved SuperATV visitor, to want one. At least, not yet.
The upcoming electric Ranger XP Kinetic is a promising-looking utility side-by-side, but the Nikola NZT is a sport UTV that’s designed to blow away the competition.
The Nikola NZT is an all-electric UTV designed for serious UTV enthusiasts. It’s not just a UTV designed to overcome the shortcomings of previous electric machines—it’s designed to be the best thing on the market. They’ve given it an unbelievable 590 HP. Let that sink in. The Ranger EV has 30 HP. The RZR PRO R has 225 HP. It’s not even close!
On top of that, it has 722 ft-lbs of torque. We don’t even know how to contextualize that—it’s just a lot. It uses four electric motors to power each wheel individually, so you get all that torque the instant you hit the accelerator. They tout a 3.5 second 0-60 MPH acceleration. It’s pretty impressive.
They’ve packed it with some big batteries, so it has a range of up to 150 miles before needing to be recharged—long enough for a good day of riding, but not so long that you can ignore it. It’s not perfect, but it’s worlds better than the drive around the block you seem to get with other electric UTVs.
At least the charging times are decent. A 240 volt plug gets you an 80% charge in 15 hours. With a fast charger, you can get it done in two hours. That’s comparable to most electric vehicles out there.
The problem comes when you’re out camping, though. Good luck finding a fast charging station out there. You’d probably be better off using solar panels (which Nikola says will be possible).
It’s a serious machine that can certainly handle anything you throw at it. Sure, it might run out of juice a little early if you plan an action-packed weekend or you enter a long distance race, but it surpasses every other gas powered UTV on the market in a lot of ways.
Nikola hasn’t solved every electric problem with the NZT—namely the price. Most low-performance electric UTVs cost around $10,000 with higher performance EVs like the Ranger XP Kinetic starting at $24,999.
The Nikola NZT, however, starts at $80,000. That’s not even close to realistic for most people. Adding a full cab and HVAC brings the price up to $90k.
That’s the cost of the bleeding edge unfortunately.
You’ll notice that these prices are not currently listed on the Nikola website, but they were listed in the past. It’s likely that prices have increased or that the entire project is on hold due to the pandemic.
Oh, and one other thing: they haven’t made them yet. As of December 2021, you can’t even reserve one. In fact, we’re well past the original launch date for them. While delays are neither uncommon nor damning, the Nikola NZT is starting to look more like a hollow promise and less like a product.
Time will tell whether they can make the NZT a reality or not. It may still be years off when components are cheaper and demand is higher. Right now, though, we’re not going to hold our breath.
At the end of the day, the NZT is a whole lot of promise. Whether it’s awesome or not, it’s an indication of things to come. In fact, it doesn’t even really matter if it never comes out at all. What matters is that it’s part of a trend. It’s clear from the Polaris Ranger XP Kinetic and Segway’s upcoming hybrid lineup that electric UTVs are coming.
Watch out—soon the electric hum of gasless UTVs will find its way onto the trails and make the ride parks quiet. Who knows… maybe it’ll even make its way into your garage.
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