As the era of sustainable innovation steadily cements itself into the history books, we're seeing more valuable breakthroughs.
These breakthroughs are especially noteworthy when designed to overcome harsh weather, unique terrain, and remote locations. These areas are harder to accommodate with sustainable development. If anything, they are less likely to receive the same amount of interest.
Local governments, companies, and organizations are attempting to remedy this discrepancy to allow for eco-friendly options in the most unlikely places.
Take Churchill, Canada, a town referred to as the "polar bear capital." Located in the Manitoba province, the city is home to long, harsh winters, making implementing eco-friendly concepts more difficult. And sustainability is a real issue. Groceries and other necessities must be shipped in, resulting in high air freight emissions and increasing costs for the locals.
One company in this wintery province is looking to change the status quo by developing the world's first electric tundra buggy. The vehicle can easily navigate snow dunes and uncertain terrain, allowing the business to transport residents and visitors with minimal impact.
Changing the Game
New Frontiers North Adventures is a family-operated sustainable travel business that brings tourists to northern Canada. Founded in 1987, the company is the only B-Corp certified adventure travel company in the country, an impressive title.
What sets this company apart is its incorporation of sustainable practices that emulate social and environmental responsibility. New Frontiers Northern Adventures utilizes a tundra buggy. Created in 1979, the unique vehicle is a multi-passenger car like those seen on safaris; only this one is suitable for northern climates where weather and terrain are brutal.
New Frontiers Northern Adventures uses the all-terrain vehicle to carry passengers seeking views of the surrounding wildlife and northern lights.
In November, the company announced it was adding another buggy to the fleet, and this one is electric. The vehicle will reportedly boast zero emissions and a noise-free engine to cut disturbance to the surrounding ecosystem.
The company partnered with the local Red River College to develop the model. Together, they worked to transition the diesel engine to an electric motor. The tourism company website says the ordeal was "made possible through Manitoba's new Conservation and Climate Fund, the Vehicle Technology Centre (VTCI), and in-kind support and technical services from RRC Polytech's Vehicle Technology & Energy Centre (VTEC)."
In late November, the buggy went out on its first commercial excursion. New Frontiers Northern Adventures plans to transition all 12 of their Tundra Buggy's to battery-power by 2030, a move they expect will save up to 3,600 tons of carbon dioxide (Co2) over the next three decades.
This news is exceptionally welcome considering that the business is home to "Tundra Buggy One, the research vehicle for Polar Bears International, the only nonprofit dedicated solely to polar bears and the Arctic Sea ice.
Through this partnership, Tundra Buggy One hosts scientists and Polar Bear Live Cams powered by explore.org, the largest live nature network in the world, reaching millions of viewers."
By transitioning its fleet to electric, New Frontiers Northern Adventures is reaching its sustainable goals and enhancing Polar Bears International, lowering the environmental footprint of crucial research trips.
Electric vehicles have grown in popularity since the turn of the century. Though garnering conflicting opinions on its environmental footprint and reliability, most studies agree that EVs demonstrate a lower overall environmental footprint than gas vehicles.
The impact varies depending on battery manufacture, energy source, end-of-life stages, and in this case, temperature and weather. The harsh conditions tend to increase energy drainage.
The company did not address these issues, but went into the project with reliability, efficiency, and safety as critical concerns. Packages offered by the company don't span a long distance, so even if the vehicle has a low range, recharging after excursions shouldn't be a big deal. As the company transitions the rest of its fleet, it will likely release details on range and reliability.
EVs are still generally approved among qualified individuals as a step in the right direction, and the transition to the electronic buggy could ultimately lower the company's footprint.
The upgrade will also help New Frontiers Northern Adventures drive the ecotourism industry forward by setting new standards of consciousness and prompting competitive advantage.