The EcoGroomer was conceptualized by Dan Osborne, who is a Florida based entrepreneur. The idea is to essentially add two additional grooming tracks to an existing snowcat. This will allow resorts to groom certain trails while using one third the amount of passes. The inventor estimates that 60%-70% of trails can be groomed with the EcoGroomer, mostly beginner and intermediate runs. He also estimates total cost savings of 30%-40%. While there are many challenges this project faces, I like the idea that someone is thinking outside of the box and coming up with something that will in theory create efficiencies, save money, and help the environment. The EcoGroomer is still in the early stages, so no official cost yet.
The target retail price is said to be between $175k-$225k per SPU, which is less than the cost of a modern snow cat.
What is the release date? Here is what inventor Dan Osborne says in reference to that, "My goal from day one has been to have them ready for distribution by the 2012/2013 ski season throughout North America and Europe the following season. We are on track so far with our initial time frame estimates in terms of resort participation and preliminary engineering and illustrations. Once prototype testing occurs this year, we will have a much better handle on if this date is feasible or not. It really depends upon who the ultimate manufacturer(s) will be."
The EcoGroomer website has an in depth cost and fuel savings overview if you want to see the logic behind the rig.
Here is a video on the history of the snowcat: