A Minnesota-based drivetrain company and a West Coast electric vehicle maker have an ambitious plan to convert more of America’s gas-powered commercial and recreational vehicles to electric.
This week, Team Industries in Bagley and Oregon-based Brammo Inc. entered a partnership to create systems that will allow ATVs, snowmobiles, buses, boats, motorcycles, golf and utility vehicles to run on lithium-powered batteries. The key is to make batteries that juice up quickly and hold their charge longer than what’s now available, officials said.
“Both companies are innovators, and we have a strong cultural fit,” Team Industries CEO and President David Ricke said. The plan for the budding partnership is to focus on converting the fuel source on every type of vehicle but cars.
Craig Bramscher, the CEO and founder of Brammo Inc., started the company in his garage in 2002. Since then, Polaris, Best Buy and several venture capital firms have invested in the company. This week, Team Industries became a minority investor.
Going forward, Brammo and Team Industries expect to help original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) solve problems and convert vehicle power sources from gas to electric without sacrificing speed or efficiency.
Brammo is best-known for its electric battery power packs, vehicle chargers, grid connectors and for building its all-electric racing motorcycles, the Empulse and the Enertia.
At the same time, Team is well known for the transmissions, axles, gears and drivetrains its been making for 47 years.
“In a nutshell, they have the expertise on the electrical side of the equation and we are the experts on the mechanical side. So there is a very good fit for us technology-wise,” said Team Industries spokesman Tony Passanante.
Team Industries, which has six Minnesota plants, machines parts for Polaris, Arctic Cat, Yamaha and Honda.
Brammo makes electric motorcycles for consumers. And it makes parts for Medina-based Polaris, which manufactures all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), snowmobiles, motorcycles and electric vehicles.
In 2011, Polaris bought the low-speed Global Electric Motorcars (GEM) from Chrysler and the French-made Goupil Industrie line of “ultralight” industrial electric/hybrid trucks that sell in 18 European countries. In April 2013, Polaris bought A.M. Holding S.A.S., which makes the Aixam Mega line of electric or diesel quadracycles and light-duty commercial vehicles. Now it appears Polaris may have some interest in spreading its passion for electric power into its other products. Polaris officials could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
If successful, Team and Brammo will snag up to 5 percent of an electric-vehicle market that is worth billions of dollars, Bramscher said. “The market potential is in the tens of billions of dollars,” he said. “We’re excited.”
Bramscher added that Team Industries and Brammo will first try to expand their product offerings with existing customers such as Polaris and with manufacturers who make motorcycles, utility vehicles and tow vehicles such as those used to haul jetliners into hangars.
Manufacturing is expected to take place both in Oregon and in Bagley, where Team Industries has its own foundry.
Dee DePass • 612-673-7725