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Published on January 20th, 2015 | by Tina Casey


New Hybrid Electric Motorcycle Wins Hearts And Minds In Unlikely Places

January 20th, 2015 by  

Finally, here’s an electric vehicle that even Fox News is gushing over. Aside from sporting a totally badass name — SilentHawk — this trippy looking hybrid electric motorcycle is being specially designed for military use. You might not be able to get your hands on it now, but we’re betting that the technology will trickle into the civilian market eventually.

Our sister site Gas2.org has a good rundown on the development of the new motorcycle, but given Fox’s history of bashing electric vehicles we’re much more interested in why the folks at Fox are beginning to turn the corner on EVs.

Hybrid electric motorcycle SilentHawk

SilentHawk hybrid electric motorcycle (screenshot, courtesy of Logos Technologies).

What’s So Great About A Hybrid Electric Motorcycle?

Electric vehicles have gotten a huge, soup-to-nuts push from the Obama Administration through the EV Everywhere initiative, and it’s no secret that Fox has generally been giving the solid stinkeye to electric vehicles. We’re assuming that’s just part of the network’s “all of the above” strategy for criticizing everything that President Obama does, but the allure of reporting on new EV technology is apparently irresistible, even to Fox.

Back in 2013, for example, we took note of a Fox News article that described a company called Simbol Materials, which is working on a new salt water extraction process that will help lower the cost of EV batteries.

What caught our eye was the credit we taxpayers got for providing an assist to the company:

The salt water extraction process was originally conceived at California’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) with funds from a state grant, while Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago adapted it to be used with geothermal fluids.

Those are federal laboratories funded through the Energy Department, in case you missed it.

We Built This Hybrid Electric Motorcycle!

In the latest reporting on EVs from Fox, the new SilentHawk hybrid electric motorcycle headed up the network’s short list of “3 of the coolest special operations vehicles of 2014,” published earlier this month.

Here’s the reporter giving props to us taxpayers near the top of the article:

The US Armed Forces needed a cutting-edge stealth motorcycle that would let them travel fast and silently downrange. DARPA – the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – awarded a small business innovation research grant to develop a military-use, hybrid motorcycle that will operate nearly silently in electric mode.

For those of you new to the topic, DARPA is the federal agency that gave birth to the Internet. DARPA (aka the taxpaying public) provides funding to companies that show potential for transformative technologies that are too high-risk to attract private investors.

The success of the longstanding DARPA model inspired a similar public-private initiative aimed specifically at leapfrogging the US energy sector over its fossil fuel dependency. That would be the Energy Department’s ARPA-E, the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. It was established by Congress in 2005 but not funded until the Obama Administration got behind it, in 2009.

Let’s also note, for you Walking Dead fans, that a silent motorcycle would be perfect for sneaking past those sharp-eared zombies, so as with other forms of military-focused technology we’re expecting silent motorcycles to find multiple uses in the civilian sector.

Come to think of it, electric motorcycles are already a thing, but according to SilentHawk partner Logos Technologies this will be the first full sized off-road motorcycle equipped with multifuel hybrid capability as well as two-wheel drive (the other partner is Alta Motors, formerly named BRD).

If you’ve been following the Defense Department’s interest in vehicle-to-grid technology and microgrids in forward operating bases and combat operations, you can see where SilentHawk really is not your father’s electric motorcycle. In addition to traveling quickly and near-silently through extreme conditions, the idea is to use the motorcycle battery and/or other fuel reserves to power electric military gear in the field.

Fox Hearts EVs!

As for Fox New’s change of heart, the network is all for supporting our troops, and SilentHawk is a military project, so there’s that angle.

But, that’s not the only angle. Our recent trip to the Detroit Auto Show left us more convinced than ever that electric vehicles will dominate the personal mobility landscape of the future. While gasmobiles took center stage overall, virtually every major auto manufacturer showcased their latest attempt to muscle into the electric market.

Especially noteworthy was BMW, which featured its luxury i8 front and center:

BMW i8 EV with charging station

BMW i8 EV with charging station at 2015 Detroit auto show (photo by Tina Casey).

Also of note was GM. The company took a lot of heat from Fox and other conservative pundits when it rolled out its gas-electric Volt with all-electric drive a few years back, but GM soldiered on. The company gave the Volt, and its new Bolt long range, affordable EV concept, the star treatment in Detroit:

GM Bolt long range EV

GM Bolt EV on display at 2015 Detroit auto show (photo by Tina Casey).

Now that virtually every major auto manufacturer is a stakeholder in EV technology, we’re thinking that Fox is not going to antagonize an entire advertising sector without a really, really good excuse.

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About the Author

specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.

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