There is a company in business today that built its first electric vehicle in North America in 1959. Since 2010 EVs have been a standard offering. Although this company also offers gasoline and alternative fuel powered vehicles, the electric version is the most popular. Everyone who sees one wants a ride, and its name is synonymous with its function. That electric vehicle is the Zamboni.
Zambonis resurface the ice at a skating rink providing the best speed for the world’s fastest sport. It takes a machine about 12 minutes to resurface a rink and according to Zamboni, most rinks do this about 10 times per day. So a Zamboni, which is much like a car and uses car parts, runs about two hours per day. Some run much more than that. Going electric reduces environmental pollution the exact same way an electric family car does.
The Zamboni is a vehicle just like any other, but unlike a passenger car it is often operated indoors where young athletes and spectators will have to breathe the products of combustion from its engine. As a sales engineer for a gas monitoring company I have actually taken indoor air quality readings following a Zamboni’s pass. In many states, for example Massachusetts, rinks are required to test for, and keep a log of, the carbon monoxide and oxides of nitrogen in their facility. Lives are at stake. Going electric solves all of that and Zamboni did it before anyone seriously considered electric cars for everyday use.
A Zamboni is a real vehicle. They can drive over the road, and in fact one drove across Canada the hard way, starting in Newfoundland and ending on the West coast. Zambonis have headlights for evening driving, and many are actually registered with license plates so they can drive around town.
Here are some fun facts you might find of interest on the Zamboni:
- Top speed is 10 MPH (rounding up)
- Can run to the quarter mile in about 94 seconds
- Leaves behind 1500 pounds of water during resurfacing
- Batteries weigh 3,000 pounds
- Uses an AC electric traction motor for power
- Uses Tungsten Carbide studded tires
Zambonis can also be powered by the rink itself. The photos shown in the gallery are of the Falmouth Ice Arena on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. The rink has enough solar panels on the roof and the car port to generate almost a megawatt of power. The building is “net zero” meaning that it does not use more power than it creates. In addition to the massive solar array, the building is in the shadow of a huge windmill. Have you ever wondered how much pollution is generated from the commercial lawnmowers, tillers, and other equipment used to maintain the turf of a soccer, football, or baseball field?
The next time someone tells you how many EVs this or that automaker has produced since about 2010 remind them that the Zamboni company has been making EVs since the ‘50s.
Main story photo courtesy of Zamboni's public site. Gallery photos by the author.