By Piero Facchin

According to a recent article in La Presse and other media, recreational vehicle manufacturer Taiga, a pioneer in the production of electric snowmobiles and jet skis, is currently going through a period of crisis, having laid off some 30 employees at its Montréal plant.

Although various levels of government granted subsidies amounting to $70 million, Taiga actually received only $34 million, since part of the total sum was tied to the construction of a new plant in Shawinigan. The current economic context makes it even more difficult for this world leader in electric recreational vehicles to progress, and this is not the only example of start-up companies targeting this new market niche, and having a hard time making a go of it.

One need only think of Tesla, an electrification giant; it has a certain “Elon Musk” behind it, and has secured numerous subsidies and loans from the US government. It’s been a long road to profitability, punctuated by a financial rollercoaster, but he’s finally succeeded.

For Taiga, established in 2015, everything related to research and development, two sectors that require huge investments, was done locally. This first part, critical to the success of any business, is fundamental, and it’s clear that investments, whether public or private, must contribute to developing an “optimal” product.

Currently, the Taiga plant in Montréal’s Lachine borough employs around 270 people, and produced just over 1,000 vehicles last year. At full capacity, the combined efforts of the Montréal and Shawinigan plants could produce 80,000 units.

If the Shawinigan plant goes ahead soon, it’ll give Taiga a good boost, but its marketing, with well-defined global targets, will have to be well honed. It’s something to keep an eye on.

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