Rotax\BRP Announces "THUNDeR" Electric Power Unit for Karts

Very interesting press release from Rotax\BRP today

Download the datasheet HERE (2.9 MB)

Read more below…

BRP Launches a Whole New Kart Racing Experience with its First Rotax Electric Powerpack

BRP is expanding its range of Rotax internal combustion engines to electric powerpacks. BRP’s new Rotax THUNDeR powerpacks will offer consumers all the advantages of electrification, including lower greenhouse gas and noise emissions, with the same performance and ease-of-use that have become hallmarks of the Rotax brand.

“BRP is focused on providing trendsetting experiences to its consumers,” said José Boisjoli, president and CEO. “With the introduction of an all-electric zero-emission low-noise kart, BRP is positioned to fully seize and shape new markets. Ongoing innovations in electric technology and shifting consumer demand enable us to extend the performance and thrilling experiences of the acclaimed Rotax racing DNA to our new electric powerpacks.”

The key features of this new powerpack will include:

  • A high-performance lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 2.5 kWh,
  • A top performance of 20 kW (26HP) and 46 Nm (34LbFt),
  • From 0 to 100 km/h (62 Mph) in 3.5 seconds, and a top speed of 130 km/h (81 MPH).
  • Weight: 130KG (286lbs)

“This new powerpack is a ground-breaking development, and we are very excited to be taking our first step into the world of electrification,” said Thomas Uhr, General Manager BRP-Rotax and Vice President Powertrain BRP. “As the world of powersports continues to advance, it is important that we evolve our business to embrace emerging trends. Our new offering will be a complement to traditional race-day excitement, and we are thrilled to be using new technology to provide an alternative, high-level powersports experience.”

The Rotax electric powerpack will be distributed through RIC TECH, a joint venture between subsidiary BRP-Rotax and Italian partner SMRE SPA.

About BRP
BRP (TSX:DOO) is a global leader in the design, development, manufacturing, distribution and marketing of powersports vehicles and propulsion systems. Its portfolio includes Ski-Doo and Lynx snowmobiles, Sea-Doo watercraft, Can-Am off-road and Spyder vehicles, Evinrude and Rotax marine propulsion systems as well as Rotax engines for karts, motorcycles and recreational aircraft. BRP supports its line of products with a dedicated parts, accessories and clothing business. With annual sales of CA$4.2 billion from over 100 countries, the Company employs approximately 8,700 people worldwide.

Spielberg, Austria, September 29, 2017

BRP-Rotax’s first electric powerpack for racing karts – the Rotax THUNDeR – was presented during a press conference at the Red Bull race track in Spielberg, Austria, where media representatives watched Ferdinand Habsburg, Formula 3 pilot, testing the powerpack in a Sodi chassis.

“We are proud to bring our first electric-powered product to the market. E-mobility is an evolving technology
in the whole industry and is now part of BRP-Rotax’s growing product portfolio. The Rotax
THUNDeR powerpack reflects our DNA: racing experience and always breaking new ground in our
markets,” said Thomas Uhr, General Manager BRP-Rotax GmbH & Co KG and Vice President Powertrain

The Rotax THUNDeR powerpack is BRP-Rotax’s first step into this new technology. It is designed for
use on common kart racing tracks and requires low maintenance as well as easy handling.
With its powerful e-Drive, the Rotax THUNDeR is a premium quality kart powertrain combined with the
latest high-performance lithium-ion battery with a capacity of 2.5 kWh. With a top performance of 20
kW and 46 Nm, this innovative electric karting powerpack does not need to fear a comparison with
karts with combustion engines. It goes from 0 to 100 km/h in 3.5 seconds and has a top speed of 130

A special race series – the Rotax E-MAX Challenge – is planned to offer kart racers the ultimate karting

That looks sweet. I wonder how many laps it’s good for though. That and how much it weighs.

Great questions that I’m hoping to get answers for. I was going to make a guestimate on the number of laps, but I don’t know what %DOD they run to.

The video shows 130kg/287lbs. That must feel odd.

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Yeah it’s up there as kart go, but not too bad as electrics.

Eh, I’m not really sure how I feel about it.
I mean it’s neat, but I’m not sure if it’ll be more than a one-off/glorified rental thing, rather than hitting the mainstream.

Those don’t look like rental chassis. It’s likely however, that I couldn’t afford one anyways. I suspect that these will be expensive and undoubtedly the downtime while charging will make this impractical for anything g outside of a fleet of karts.

What I mean is other than occupational event, where you have a Formula E style event prompter offering 20 karts for drivers to come race in an event, I don’t see a dad/son purchasing an electric kart to go to the club race track.

So basically, it’s a glorified rental unless the infrastructure for racing it can be made accessible. There is a reason why they didn’t mention the price of the thing. :wink:

My late edit supports your conclusion. The instant torque should make accelerating out of a turn interesting. They seem like they will be powerful enough to require a different driving style.

I’d coin it as a racing kart you can rent. It’s a sodi chassis with front brakes and 31HP available in bursts. Rental kart to me means that you have something with a less power, wraparound bumpers, sometimes a roll hoop and even belts.

Seems like the power pack might be available separately.
Owner driver will take some time for adoption like @DavinRS said. You’ll need a way to charge them first off.

They’ve had an electric kart class at Simraceway (Sonoma) for the last several years that currently runs with the Sanzaru Karting series. I don’t know too much about it, but they are quick. They post times generally between an 80 shifter and a Stock Honda.

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I’m all for electric karts… until I see the weight. :-1:

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Agreed +1 …

So i happened to know about this before it was announced (which is easy for me to say now).

  • 10mins + at full power (on a rig, they think most tracks you only use full power 60% of the time).
  • 50mins to charge back to full with a CEE16 plug (i think thats 400V/16A which is a European 3 phase voltage)
  • 6 hrs with a household plug (again European voltage)

My understanding is BRP have a much bigger plan then just selling these off the shelf. I wasn’t able to beat the price out of my source.


Great, a product announcement without a price. Hopefully the PR will be managed better than the EVO was.

@DavinRS I think like many things initially it will struggle to be a ‘take home and work on’ kind of product. But I do think they are actively trying to transfer electric powertrain to a performance kart application. Weight will be an issue…but weight was an issue when go-karts were first a thing. Pathetic power and a heavy cast-iron engine.

I am a fan of IC engines…it’s what I know. However after watching the video and keeping in mind how Formula E isn’t exactly atrocious in terms of entertainment, I’d be interested in seeing a group of these race.

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I’m excited to see a kart that’s heavier than me for a change :blush:

I was worried when I first read the announcement, it says 387#. Then I did the kg conversion, hopefully the metric number is right.