This electric ATV is helping rescuers find lost and missing people
© DRR USA
We speak to the developers of DRR USA's Stealth Electric ATV, the off-roader proving that electric vehicles can be tough enough to tackle rescue missions deep in the wilderness.
The all terrain vehicle (ATV) market is on the rise. Last year, the market was worth $4.2million (€3.8million), with this expected to rise to $6.2million (€5.5million) by 2024. In amongst the industry's big players, DRR USA is a smaller business doing things their own way.
"DRR USA was originally created after the owner experienced an ATV accident involving her youngest son," explains Kelly Green, DRR USA's head of marketing and design. "At the time, children's ATVs didn't always have proper safety features. They were too narrow and often tipped over. To solve the safety issues, she decided to develop a kid's ATV with slip-resistant seats, a safety tether, brake lights, daytime running lights and fully enclosed floorboards."
20 years later, DRR USA are still going strong, amassing over 75 national championship victories alongside unique product development. Based in Ohio, USA, the company continues to approach the ATV industry in a new way. It was only a matter of time before the company engaged with the electric vehicle revolution, yet the journey there was less than conventional.
"In September 2018, we were following a case about a missing child with autism in North Carolina," recounts Kim DeCuzzi, whose had the idea for the company's new Stealth Electric ATV. "We noticed rescuers were using various types of noisy vehicles (trucks and drones) to search for him. Most people are not aware that children with autism are often frightened of loud noises. When the case closed, we contacted the police department involved to get their perspective on the search. Learning from that case encouraged us to further our electric ATV development."
With that, the silent ATV was born. By replacing the diesel engine with a battery-powered, brushless electric motor, DRR USA eliminated any audio output from the vehicle. Developing the battery, however, wasn't without its complications.
"The battery mechanism was the biggest challenge," admits Green. "We needed to find a way for the battery to keep its charge for enough distance, while still maintaining speed. With help from another local business, we were able to develop a lithium ion battery mechanism that did both."
That it did. With a top speed of 56kph, the Stealth Electric ATV is unlikely to match DRR USA's competitive vehicles on the track. but that's not the priority here. At least, not yet.
"Initially, we made the vehicle for rescue workers, but we've discovered many additional uses for it: film sets, beach patrols, eco tours, farming and trail riding, to name a few. The list of uses keeps growing," claims Green. "The beauty of an electric vehicle is that everything is programmed. Full torque from 0kph is a complete possibility with just a change in the programming, meaning higher speeds are a tweak away. As we further perfect the battery system, we can account for higher speeds and hopefully a sport bike in the future."
That’s not the only beauty. When driving the Stealth Electric ATV, it only takes a thumb throttle to get moving, meaning that even a person with very little experience can ride the vehicle. With 700 fewer parts than the diesel equivalent, the electric ATV has a much lower risk of breaking as well, which, alongside the absence of fuel costs, reduces long-term expense to the user. The initial cost of $7,500 (€6,725) and eight hour battery life are competitive. The slick design is impossible to ignore.
All details aside, the environmental impact of an electric ATV is paramount and highlights the impact smaller vehicles can have on the fight against climate change.
"Green communities are popping up all over the place, depending on the local laws, and a vehicle like this is great for travelling shorter distances without creating carbon emissions," states Green. "The EV revolution is not going to happen overnight. Battery technology is still advancing, and the only way it can continue to advance is if we create new vehicles that requires progressive technology."
As Green reaffirms, nature is pivotal to everything that DRR USA do. "You can't drive an ATV in your front room," she says. If we can fight the good battle against carbon emissions whilst riding an ATV that wouldn't look out of place in Batman's garage, then DRR USA certainly has our attention.