Aurora Powertrains and the electric snowmobile – eSled – were developed during a research project organised by Lapland University of Applied Sciences. The environmentally friendly innovation product already has international demand and significant growth potential. The company is seeking additional funding and possibly a partner from the industry.
Rovaniemi-based Aurora Powertrains has developed the environmentally friendly electric snowmobile, eSled, making it one of the first of its kind in the world. The electric snowmobile has been mainly invented with safari operations in mind.
The company was established in 2017, and initially, it manufactured snowmobiles for its own safari operations. Since the cooperation agreement concluded with Safartica Oy, which was recently published, the company shall focus on the further development and sales of the electric snowmobile. By the end of last year, a total of 35 electric snowmobiles had been manufactured. The company’s turnover in April 2020 was more than half a million euros.
The development of the snowmobile began over ten years ago at Lapland University of Applied Sciences. During the development of the product, a commercial study of the electric snowmobile was also carried out. Its results proved to be extremely positive, so the decision was made to establish the company.
– The company progressed with product development in giant leaps, says Managing Director, Matti Autioniemi, about the initial stages of the company.
Sustainability and winter conditions in the background of the innovation product
During safari rides, the electric snowmobiles travel at a speed of 40 kilometres per hour, and they can travel a distance of 30-40 kilometres with one charge. The top speed of the snowmobile is approximately one hundred kilometres per hour. A particular advantage of the eSled compared to other snowmobiles, in addition to it being emission-free, is its quiet operation.
– Initially, there was a need to develop an environmentally friendly, quiet, smoke-free and odour-free option to fuel-operated snowmobiles for safari operations’ needs, Autioniemi explains. – We are naturally heading towards an electrically operated future, which is also guided by the EU and the Member States with their operations and restrictions. Everything is being moved away from fuel-operated engines, and electric forms of transport will become more common: the electric snowmobile is one of them, he continues.
The electric snowmobile design had to take into account several challenging factors: the components had to withstand freezing conditions, significant temperature fluctuations, and the vibrations and shocks on the vehicle during use.
The innovation has required several years of design and testing: Lapland has been an excellent testing environment. The electric snowmobile’s functionality and durability were initially monitored in the company’s own snowmobile safari operations.
– In addition to this, it has been designed to withstand the cold conditions in safari operations. Our snowmobile was used in Greenland in 2016. In 2018, it was used during the Oden research at the icebergs surrounding the North Pole. In other words, the electric snowmobile, eSled, can withstand winter conditions very well.
Cooperation and transport works well in Rovaniemi
Alongside the company manufacturing electric snowmobiles, Aurora Powertrains, the Aurora eMotion brand offers snowmobile safaris. The cooperation initiated in November 2020 with Rovaniemi-based programme service company, Safartica, takes place. Electric snowmobile safaris are available in Rovaniemi and Levi already this winter.
– Safartica manages all the programme service operations and relevant sales and marketing. We are responsible for the service and maintenance of the electric snowmobiles and the production of new snowmobiles at a later stage.
The cooperation was naturally formed because Safartica was interested in environmentally friendly snowmobiles. Aurora Powertrains wanted to focus more on developing the snowmobile and technology and giving up its safari operations. The companies have now concluded a cooperation agreement for a period of several years.
The location of Rovaniemi has been functional for the company’s needs. Autioniemi praises Rovaniemi as a good centre.
– The airport is close, and there are good connections here, and that is rather essential in our operations because our operations involve a lot of logistics. – People can easily reach us, and we can easily reach the rest of the world, he says.
– One might quickly assume that we are secluded. However, we have realised that component suppliers and other partners are also interested in Lapland, so it is easy to operate with them because they are interested in us. On the other hand, they are interested in finding out how their products withstand in challenging conditions, states Autioniemi.
Aurora Powertrains has also cooperated with other local companies. For example, Rovaniemi-based Arctic SnowHotel & Glass Igloos offer its customer eSled safari packages because Aurora eMotion’s premises and snowmobiles are located near their business premises at the shore of Lake Lehtojärvi.
The company has also sold snowmobile to other operators, such as the Norwegian experiential holiday organiser, Hurtigruten Svalbard, at Svalbard, and Sunday Morning Resort at Pyhä. Snowmobiles have also been delivered for hire to the energy company, Vattenfall, for various events, such as the Alpine World Ski Championships in Åre in 2019.
Lapland’s business environment has supported Aurora Powertrains during its business journey, even from the very start. Autioniemi explains that the research was progressed with the help of local operators.
– For example, if considering our background: it roots back to Lapland University of Applied Sciences and a research project for which we acquired operators already then from this environment.
He also considers that support was provided during the company’s establishment, where necessary, for launching operations and financial needs.
A new snowmobile model to be launched in the spring
Aurora Powertrains is seeking additional funding, and the company has an active share issue at the beginning of 2021. The share issue aims for one million euros in funding, which the company will use to, e.g. invest in the product development and production of battery modules and a new eSled model, sales and marketing development, and patents.
– We are interested in partners that can provide us with more than just funding, such as industry expertise or experience in a company’s management work.
Autioniemi anticipates the year 2021 to be busy for the company. In the spring, Aurora Powertrains shall launch a new electric snowmobile model with a frame it has independently designed, in addition to the previous Utility and Touring models. The sales of the new model shall also be initiated at a larger scale than before.
– The frame is made on the basis of electric drive in which case it will enable certain features that the previous frame could not offer, says the Managing Director.
The company will bring an independently designed battery module and charging control unit to the market.
The company’s objective for the current year is to increase snowmobiles’ sales in, e.g. Finland, Nordic countries and Europe. In Finland, with Safartica, Aurora Powertrains shall aim to increase the number of electric snowmobiles to develop safari operations.
– New business opportunities will be sought from Sweden, and perhaps Iceland. Central Europe also seems like an interesting area; there is a lot of interest.