In 1962, former Formula 1 driver Ernst Prinoth developed his first snow groomer. In doing so, he changed modern skiing forever and laid the foundation for an international company that today operates three successful business units with a wide range of different applications. This year, we turn 60 and celebrate our anniversary with the presentation of the world's first snow groomer powered by a hydrogen combustion engine, a new version of the LEITWOLF h2MOTION.
At PRINOTH, commitment to sustainability and helping our customers meet their carbon-free targets is a number one priority. The research and development teams are pursuing all options—electric drives and hydrogen technologies—to pave the way for a future of sustainable snow grooming.
Our story though begins in the early 1960s when skiing experienced its first peak. At the time cable car and lift companies were facing problems. Fresh snow was still being trampled to make a slope skiable for as long as possible. Depending on the size of the slope, it took ten, twenty or hundreds of people. A laborious task that fewer and fewer people were willing to take on. However, if the slopes were not trodden, in a short time conditions were hazardous and accidents were commonplace.
Former Formula 1 racer Ernst Prinoth observed this situation closely. In the early 1950s, he had opened a car repair shop in his home town in the alps. Here, he applied his talents in tuning to get the maximum performance out of engines. This passion for engineering, coupled with his love of skiing and a realization that the current slope preparation needed drastic change, led him to develop his first snow groomer.
To combine two different requirements—high performance and low weight—Ernst Prinoth drew inspiration from the specific characteristics of the vehicles he knew best: Race cars. Soon after, in 1962, he was driving his first prototype, the P60, safely over the steepest slopes.
Two years later, Ernst Prinoth prepared the slopes for the World Ski Championships in Seefeld, Austria, in front of cameras from all over the world with his first mass-produced snow groomer, the P15. Excellent customer service and technical innovations have been at the heart of our company since those early years.
Today, PRINOTH employs more than 900 people worldwide, and following company acquisitions, produces snow groomers as well as crawler carriers and machines for vegetation management at four locations worldwide.