Clean Transport Hybrid electric motorcycle SilentHawk

Published on January 20th, 2015 | by Tina Casey

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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+.



  • Guestatcleantechnica

    I came here for the first time linked from an unrelated site. I guess I’m not welcome here, but just so you know, I’m a little saddened by the arrogance and ignorance being propagated in the article and the comments.

    If there is a conservative bias, it isn’t against electric vehicles or environmental improvements, it’s against bad math. The perfect example would be the Chevy Volt, which is a great solution if you want a $70,000 economy car you will force somebody else to mostly buy for you, when the better solution would have been to help somebody like Zero motorcycles so I could spend my own money on something I very much want. Another perfect example would be the compact florescent light, which traded one environmental headache for a bigger environmental headache (and less light) due to a force march that resulted from good intentions and bad math, when we should have just facilitated (or simply waited for) for better LED solutions.

    Many of us “conservatives” were also environmentalists until the environmental movement abandoned much science and all math.

    • Bob_Wallace

      FUD is certainly not welcome here.

      The 2015 Chevy Volt has a MSRP of $34,170. Not $70,000.

      The compact florescent lamp created zero environmental headaches. It just required taking to a recycling drop off after many years of saving lots of electricity.

      Now, if this is news to you then perhaps you should stick around and do some reading. Your current information sources have let you down.

      • Guesstcleantechnica

        So that $34k is the total cost per volt sold, including all green government subsidies? And how does dropping and breaking a CFL on your living room carpet compare, on a square inch by square inch basis, with your average mercury contaminated superfund site?

        I’m happy to be educated.

        • Bob_Wallace

          ​​
          $34,170 is the MSRP. Subsidies come after the sale.

          I rather doubt CFLs would break if dropped on a carpeted floor. If dropped on a hard surface just wipe up the mess with a damp paper towel, put it in a plastic bag, and into the garbage.

          Mercury from coal plants is the real problem.

          • Guestcleantechnica

            Right. So you get a $70k car, you pay $34,170 (or less if you dicker), and “somebody else” pays the other $35k to cover the direct green subsidies that allowed the car to be designed, built and sold. That’s my point about the volt, it’s an $80k car. If they had applied that to the Zero DS and changed it from a $12k bike to a $6k bike, even worst case (a direct subsidy), that would have lead to a pure electric commuter for about 6 times as many people (you could subsidize 6 Zero DS’s for the cost of each current Volt subsidy).

            I know you will think I’m making this up, but I brought up the CFL on a carpet example because I broke a CFL on a carpet just last month (after it burned out when less than a couple years old). It has a heavy base with the ballast and electronics, and it’s a fairly fragile spiral, and it was a ceiling bulb (so a 8ft+ drop). If it landed base first it probably would have been fine, but it didn’t. I can’t make you believe me, but if you want to drop some old ones you could probably verify (or falsify) my claim with some rigor.

            I picked up the big parts, threw them in the trash (a little uncomfortable with what they will do in a landfill), then vacuumed up the little parts (a lot uncomfortable the mercury aerosol the vacuum was making), then walked away (moderately uncomfortable with the 1 foot wide superfund site I now likely have in my family room). Maybe I need to be better educated about the harmlessness of mercury.

            As it turns out, I was replacing the CFL with a CREE LED bulb, which I and all my conservative leanings love. The initial price is high ($20 for a 100w equiv), but it should actually run for 10+ years, it works with a dimmer, it saves my energy cost, the light color is reasonable (though a little cold), and it saves coal for my kids and their kids. I am replacing all my bulbs with CREE LED’s when I can afford them.

          • Guestcleantechnica

            LOL. I googled instructions for what I should have done for a carpet break. They read like the warning label from the saturday night live add for the “happy fun ball”. Geesh.

            Do not taunt compact florescent lightbulb!

          • Bob_Wallace

            CFLs are fine if you aren’t a “breaker”. I’ve used them for almost 20 years and never broken a single one.

            The mercury issue was yet another of those blown out of proportion topics that we often get from the “anti”s.

          • Bob_Wallace

            It’s a $34,170 car. All car models have design and tooling costs. We never charge the R&D costs to the first year models but spread the costs over the entire model run.

            People who try to put all the R&D costs onto the first year or so of Volts are being dishonest. That is simply not how the car industry operates. If it did then all new models would cost double or more of their MSRP.

            Development cost are born by GM. They may not recover all their investment from the Volt but what they have learned from their first PHEV will carry forward into future electrics.

            Ford spent $2 billion in today’s dollars developing the Edsel. I’m not sure they learned much from that except to not make style changes too rapidly.

            I’ll take your word on the CFL breaking on carpet. It could happen. Here’s the cleanup instructions.

            http://www2.epa.gov/cfl/cleaning-broken-cfl-0#rug

            I agree that LEDs are a better option. I’ve got them in my most used lamps now and use CFLs in lamps that don’t get turned on often. Since I picked a half dozen CFLs for 50 cents apiece and have had only one burn out in 18 years I suspect I’ll have some around for a long, long time.

            Mercury is a problem/danger, but remember that we release a lot of mercury when we burn coal.

            “About 50 percent of the electricity produced in the U.S. is generated by coal-fired power plants. When coal burns to produce electricity, mercury naturally contained in the coal releases into the air. In 2006, coal-fired power plants produced 1,971 billion kilowatt hours (kwh) of electricity, emitting 50.7 tons of mercury into the air—the equivalent amount of mercury contained in more than 9 billion CFLs (the bulbs emit zero mercury when in use or being handled).

            Approximately 0.0234 mg of mercury—plus carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide—releases into the air per 1 kwh of electricity that a coal-fired power plant generates. Over the 7500-hour average range of one CFL, then, a plant will emit 13.16 mg of mercury to sustain a 75-watt incandescent bulb but only 3.51 mg of mercury to sustain a 20-watt CFL (the lightning equivalent of a 75-watt traditional bulb). Even if the mercury contained in a CFL was directly released into the atmosphere, an incandescent would still contribute 4.65 more milligrams of mercury into the environment over its lifetime.”

            http://www.popularmechanics.com/home/reviews/news/4217864

            Then, consider, even if the CFL goes to the landfill rather than the recycler the mercury is sequetered. Mercury from coal drifts down on us from the sky and we take it in through fish consumption.

  • BlackTalon53 .

    Is that really a pic of the “Silenthawk” or just a generic stock photo of some offroad motorcycle? Because that looks a lot like a BMW F800GS, and that thing is way too heavy for a military motorcycle even bone stock. Add in another 60-80lbs minimum for 2WD, electric motor and batteries and it will be as offraod capable as a Harley Davidson Electra Glide. Plus, modifying the bike to fit all that in would be more expensive than starting from scratch. I call BS.

    Fully electric motorcycles like the ZERO MMX however are already being used by US Special Operators like the SEALs, AFAIK.

    • TinaCasey

      Good question. The photo is from Logos Tech’s website, so that’s how they’re representing it — at least for now.

  • neroden

    Why not just adapt a Zero or a Blammo? Probably get better results. But the military insists on reinventing EVERYTHING rather than using off-the-shelf…

  • Dragon

    New Nissan “Urbanator” EV gets top rankings from Fox for its 360 degree taser weapons system for use in those dangerous minority neighborhoods. A Nissan spokesperson was quoted as saying “Our new militarized EV says to thugs, ‘Make like a tree and Leaf.'”

  • RobMF

    The key to conservative’s hearts fellow EV lovers — weaponization. They just need EV versions of the Hummer and we are golden. 😉

  • JamesWimberley

    Colour-coordinated (all in black) with the silenced sub-machine-gun, combat knife, night-vision goggles and other Special Forces toys.

  • Adrian

    Appears they started with a BMW F800GS. Packaging the hybrid system must have been fun, there is almost no empty space in that bike’s chassis.

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