Which is the best way to have a good time on snow? A sled? A snowmobile? Staying in bed with your significant other? Joking aside, Sergey Ignatyev decided it was to mix a bobsled and a snowmobile, getting rid of the combustion engine. The result required him to move from Russia to Austria to develop what now is called Bobsla, an interesting (and apparently fun) electric vehicle for snowy landscapes.
If you guessed Bobsla is a mix of bobsled with Tesla, Ignatyev would be flattered, but that has nothing to do with the origin of the name.
“The story is different. When we started, we designed a kid’s sled that parents would not have to pull uphill. It later started to look like a bobsleigh. The website name "e-bob.com" was already taken in all possible variations, but bobsla.com was free. I checked how it sounded in other languages and somebody told me that the ‘la’ ending added positive emotions to the idea, such as ‘hoopla,’ and that was it. I don’t know whether this is true or not, but we liked it! Anyway, we will do our best to be a Tesla on snow!”
The Bobsla is basically a very resistant bobsled with a metal frame that protects the rider (with a roll cage) and helps hold the headlights, batteries, and motors in place. It is powered by two rubber tracks in its backsides, each of them with an electric motor.
Peak power is 12 kW, and the top speed is 30 km/h (18.6 mph) to keep things safe despite the low center of mass of the snow EV. It also uses two removable batteries. Bobsla customers can choose how much juice they want.
“The smallest units provide 1.2 kWh each ( 2.4 kWh in total for the vehicle) and the biggest ones offer more than 3 kWh (6 kWh in total). We will check further, but probably our construction is 20 percent more energy-efficient than typical snowmobiles.”
Ignatyev also told InsideEVs about the range.
“For us, driving time is more important than range. The Bobsla is used for races with full-throttle accelerations and hard brakings. Anyway, the largest batteries allow it to run more than an hour and to drive more than 30 km (18.6 mi) depending on snow conditions.”
The swappable batteries do not require fast charging, but the company also offers it.
“The batteries can be changed in less than a minute, but fast charging takes one hour and a half with the chargers we are supplying with the Bobsla.”
When the rider seats inside it, there are two supports for the arms on each side. They end up in fixed joysticks that have a sort of lever at the height of the thumbs and a button on the top. The levers are for acceleration, and each of them controls one of the rubber tracks. The buttons brake the Bobsla, as the video above shows.
“You can feel the power of every track with your fingers. Making power in one track while braking the makes for great drifting.
Reverse speed was not implemented in the first vehicles for safety reasons. It is similar to go-karts, which do not have reverse gear for safety. However, from winter 2020/2021 on, all our vehicles will have a very slow reverse gear, operated differently from the front speed. That is how we combined the comfort of riders with safety.”
The Bobsla is relatively small, as Ignatyev told InsideEVs.
“Our current version is for races of guests of snow resorts with a lot of safety features and a big protective front bumper. That makes for a total length of 2.5 m with a width of 1,2 m. The Bobsla for individual usage will fit in pickup trucks: it will have a length below 2 m.”
As Ignatyev said, the current focus of the company is on selling the Bobsla to snow resorts as another fun attraction for guests. Still, it will expand into selling the vehicle to regular customers.
“Snow resorts pay from €9,990 per vehicle. For private buyers, we are still designing a vehicle that would be as affordable as a petrol snowmobile.”
Bobsla currently has an “angel investor and support from a local Tyrolean bank, but the company will still look for more investors before it enters the US market.
“Now we can produce up to 200 Bobslas annually with our own small assembling unit and our great Austrian, Chinese, and Russian suppliers. They can help us scale that to up to 10,000 a year, which means our manufacturing can be expanded in four to six months.”
In COVID-19 pandemic times, the issue is demand, but Ignatyev is confident the next winter will be much better. Thanks to Bobsla, it may also be a lot cleaner, but fun nonetheless – whether in a straight line or sideways.