An electric snow groomer has been a dream for many in the ski industry
and PistenBully could soon make that dream a reality
For many years, the notion of an emissions-free snow
groomer has been something of a holy grail: a great
idea rife with possibilities, but not very practical when
it comes to the alpine world.
That could soon change if one of the world’s leading manufacturers
of snow grooming equipment has its way. Pisten-
Bully, which is owned by German-based Kässbohrer, is currently
in the midst of testing its 100 E model, the first-ever
electric-powered snow groomer. A prototype was unveiled to
the public at Interalpin 2019, one of the world’s leading alpine
trade fairs that was held May 8-10 in Innsbruck, Austria. That
event, coincidentally, marked PistenBully’s 50th anniversary
While the 100 E is at least a couple of years away from being
production-ready, it is already generating significant interest
among many in the snow grooming industry. And why not?
Who wouldn’t be interested in a machine that can prepare
tracks with zero percent emissions?
Dennis McGiboney, PistenBully’s vice-president of sales
and marketing, says the idea of a fully-electric snow groomer
has been in the company’s plans for several years. He says it
was the next logical step after the introduction of the Pisten-
Bully 600 E+ diesel-electric groomer in 2012.
“I think it’s been a vision of ours for probably at least the
last 20 years. We knew that the technology was out there, but
it takes time with machines like this,” he said. “But we saw
that as the direction for our company, that we want to be on
the cutting edge of development.”
PistenBully began testing the 100 E model this past winter
and marketing manager John Glockhamer says the feedback
the company’s received from its team of European engineers
has been “very positive.” It has yet to be tested in North
America, but that is likely to occur at some point in the not
too distant future when it’s close to being production-ready,
At first glance, there isn’t much of a discernible difference
between the PistenBully 100 E and the company’s regular
production 100 model groomer. “If you look at it from the
outside, other than the graphics, it looks like a regular production
100 groomer we make,” Glockhamer said.
The real difference, he says, is under the proverbial hood. A
battery pack powers the electric motors that drive the tracks
and powers the hydraulics for the blade as well as the tiller.
The battery pack is capable of supplying 126 kilowatt hours
which equates to about 170 horsepower. By comparison,
PistenBully’s 100 diesel model generates about 253 hp. The
upside with the electric prototype is that it is capable of being
just as efficient with less horsepower and can produce
slightly more torque.
In testing, the fully electric machine has a top speed of
27 kilometers per hour, which is slightly faster than some
of PistenBully’s other snow groomers. Glockhamer adds
that the 100 E handles pretty similarly to its regular 100
The current technical challenge on the 100 E is battery life.
It can last for between 2.5 and three hours when charged for
a period of five to 6.5 hours. PistenBully is currently working
with another company that specializes in electric drives
and battery packs in hopes of extending the running time of
the power source. The challenge, according to McGiboney, is
By Jim Timlick
snowopsmag.com | SnowOps 13