© Prinoth

It was just a matter of time After the first hydrogen car, the first hydrogen truck, and the first hydrogen train, there is now also the first snow groomer on the roads, or should we say slopes. A snow groomer is a snowplow specifically designed for alpine sports purposes. The snow groomer from the Italian company Prinoth will be used for the first time on Sunday and Monday on the Gran Risa slopes in the Dolomites (Italy). This is where the Alpine Ski World Cup is being held.

Direct maximum torque of 2300 Nm

The new crawler machine is the world’s first snow groomer with a hydrogen-powered electric motor. The Leitwolf, as the model is called, has an output of 400kW (or 544 horsepower), identical to the diesel version of the same model. The vehicle is equipped with an electric motor that delivers a direct maximum torque of 2300 Nm. As is common with electric vehicles, the snow groomer is capable of powerful acceleration. Although the question remains as to whether this is something you need when priming courses on slopes.

With an autonomy of four hours, the range of the Leitwolf is enough to prepare the Gran Risa slope.

Two fuel cells have been integrated into the hydrogen machinery. Yet this extra space has not had any extra consequences for the shape of the snow groomer. As such, it hardly looks any different from the diesel model. The range of the Leitwolf is reasonable with an autonomy of four hours. This should be enough to prime the Gran Risa slopes.

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    Gran Risa slope in the Dolomites

    Refueling is still a minor detail. For the time being, the nearest station is 60 kilometers away (in Bolzano). In future, ski resorts will need to equip themselves with filling stations for hydrogen-powered vehicles, but also for electrically-powered vehicles. It is estimated that it will cost about half a million euros to build one hydrogen station. At present, however, the sector has other problems on its mind. For example, the slalom races for the World Cup will be finished on Sunday and Monday without an audience.

    Not just a hydrogen-powered snow groomer

    Besides the model that runs on hydrogen, Prinoth also has the world’s first electrically-driven snow groomer built. However, its performance does not come close to that of the Leitwolf H. The electric machine has a 190 kW motor and a maximum torque of 1140 Nm. It can be used for two hours on the slopes before it ‘runs out of juice.’ According to the makers, the range is limited because the current generation of batteries is not yet at an optimum level. If you want to get a serious 14 metric ton snow groomer up the slopes, you would need to equip it with batteries that weigh 10 tons.

    Prinoth is a reputable name in the world of snow groomers, which in Italian also called a snowcat (‘gatto delle nevi‘). The first crawler vehicle to prepare a slope probably came from Ernesto Prinoth’s garage. He launched the first model in 1962.

    Hydrogen has the future, but apparently not for passenger cars, as this article reveals.

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    About the author

    Author profile picture Ewout Kieckens is a Dutch journalist in Rome who writes about Italian lifestyle and culture. He has written books on diverse subjects such as the Vatican and Italian design. He is very interested in innovations, especially Italian contributions to progress.