Widescape, a young company based in Saguenay, has unveiled a new type of snowmobile that is driven standing rather than seated.
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The vehicle, which is at the junction between a snowmobile and a motorcycle, is equipped with a ski at the front and a caterpillar at the rear. Light – around 180 lb – and easy to handle, it is ideal for off-trail riding in both powder and hard snow.
“The snowmobile can go where traditional snowmobiles can’t, like small trails in the middle of the forest. Given its weight, it is easy to maneuver even if it gets stuck in deep snow,” explains Félix Gauthier, co-founder and president of Widescape.
Equipped with a WS250 four-stroke engine, the snowmobile can reach a maximum speed of 70 km/h. It allows different driving modes, including a beginner mode that offers smooth acceleration and controlled speed.
For its designers, this extraordinary vehicle will ensure that “winter will never be the same again” for outdoor enthusiasts.
Long development process
It took several years of work to develop this “revolutionary” snowmobile. Originally, there was a meeting between the entrepreneur and Alain Aubut who imagined this vehicle for his son Frédérik, who is now technical leader at Widescape. It was in 2002.
“From the first try, I saw its marketing potential,” says Félix Gauthier, who is also founder and president of Cycles Devinci. At the time, I was on the lookout for new projects that would complement our factory’s bicycle manufacturing activities. So we started working on the project to improve the vehicle. »
As the project was not progressing fast enough, it was put on hold for a few years. “We relaunched it in 2012 with an entirely dedicated research team. We have thus succeeded in developing a proof of concept. We were ready to go ahead to plan the manufacturing. »
It was still necessary to find the financing, a task that turned out to be more complex than expected. “I separated Widescape from Devinci. We were therefore considered a start-up for whom it is always more difficult to obtain funding,” explains Félix Gauthier.
Finally, Investissement Québec and Desjardins embarked on the project. Canada Economic Development (CED), the Aluminum Valley Society and Rio Tinto are also involved in the financial arrangement.
For the first year, Widescape has set itself the goal of selling 2,500 units. Within five years, it is aiming for 10,000 units. Its target markets: Quebec, Ontario and the entire Northeastern United States.
For manufacturing, the company has teamed up with several Quebec leaders such as Soucy International, which manufactures the tracks, and CVTech-IBC for the clutch. The assembly will however be done in Asia.
“With the current labor shortage, it’s difficult to start a new factory. We are therefore investing our efforts in development for the moment with the hope of repatriating manufacturing when the time comes,” explains Félix Gauthier.
Other models in preparation
For the launch, Widescape is only offering one snowmobile model, “but there are others on the drawing board, including an electric version,” he points out.
The Widescape snowmobile will be sold in stores specializing in outdoor products. It is already possible to pre-order online for delivery scheduled for October. Each unit sells for $8149, including preparation and delivery.
- Founding date : 2018
- Activities : stand-up snowmobile manufacturing
- Shareholders: Félix Gauthier, Investissement Québec, Desjardins, conglomerate of shareholders.
- Number of employees : 10