How Electric Off-Road Vehicles Work

Pros and Cons of Electric Off-Road Vehicles

Limted battery life could be a big disadvantage to off-roaders who want to go green.
Limted battery life could be a big disadvantage to off-roaders who want to go green.
Tim Boyle/Getty Images

Electric off-road vehicles have a few obvious advantages over their gasoline-fueled counterparts. One is their noise -- or lack thereof. Without a standard internal combustion engine, electric off-road vehicles are very quiet. That can be a plus for hunters, as well as for the military. These vehicles are so quiet that drivers may actually find the silence disconcerting.

Driving an electric off-road vehicle is also friendlier to the environment. Anyone traveling behind one of these vehicles won't have to choke on gas fumes, because there aren't any.

Another big benefit of driving an electric off-road vehicle is the cost savings. Polaris' Ranger EV costs about $0.035 per mile to operate compared to $0.09 per mile for a traditional gasoline-fueled vehicle [source: Business Wire].

The obvious disadvantage to taking an electric vehicle off-road is the limited battery life. The longest-range vehicles can only take you about 50 miles (80 kilograms) before needing to recharge, which can be a real inconvenience when you're far off the beaten path. The batteries also add a lot of weight, which may make it difficult to go screaming around tight turns.

When it comes to riding electric off-road vehicles, the safety provided is virtually equal to that of other off-road vehicles. However, concerns have been raised over the safety of the batteries themselves. Lithium-ion batteries have been known to overheat, which can lead to a fire or even an explosion. This shouldn't be a concern for much longer, however: Manufacturers are working to come up with safer battery options.

For more information about electric off-road vehicles, take a look at the links below.

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  • Business Wire. "Off-Road Vehicles Become More 'Eco-Friendly." Sept. 9, 2009.
  • Cooney, Lucas. "2010 Polaris Ranger Lineup Preview." July 23, 2009. (Dec. 7, 2009)
  • Dikeman, Neal. "All-electric ATV: No myth to bust on this one." CNET. Nov. 14, 2007. (Dec. 9, 2009)
  • Electric Auto Association. "EV Background." Dec. 9, 2009.
  • Garthwaite, Josie. "Explosion! Lithium Battery Safety Still a Problem." Earth2Tech. Nov. 12, 2009. (Dec. 9, 2009)
  • Grover, Sami. "A Clean, Green, Killing Machine? Special Operations Units Test Electric Vehicles.", Sept. 8, 2007. (Dec. 9, 2009.)
  • Kelley, Debbie. "Building a Better Battery." The (Colorado Springs) Gazette. July 12, 2007. (Dec. 7, 2009)
  • Page, Lewis. "US special forces buy electric stealth golf carts." The Register. September 7, 2007. Dec. 7, 2009.