Published August 19, 2013
The next time you cross a trail in the Canadian Tundra, make sure to look both ways.
The Canadian military has begun secret tests of a stealth snowmobile developed for use in the farthest reaches of the Great White North , the Canadian Press reports.
Tenders for proposals for such a vehicle first came to light in 2011, but new documents have been uncovered that confirm testing has begun.
Codenamed “Loki” after the shape-shifting god of Norse mythology -- perhaps more familiar today as the step-brother of Marvel’s “Thor” -- the snowmobile is believed to employ a gas-electric hybrid powertrain that allows for silent running.
Development of the covert machine is being done by hybrid powertrain specialist CrossChasm Technologies. Details are still classified, but the redacted government report says the vehicle has already been evaluated in snowy conditions at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa, outside of Ontario. Trials there pitted it against conventional snowmobiles in speed, endurance and noise tests.
"The prototype must be at least nearly as capable and reliable as a standard internal combustion snowmobile, while providing a significant noise reduction," the report said.
The cost for the program has been $620,000 Canadian to date, but there’s no word on the projected per unit price of production versions as there are no plans to deploy them just yet.
However, Canada isn’t the only country looking to take advantage of the stealth capabilities of electric vehicles. California’s Zero Motorcycles has provided U.S. Special Operations forces with a fleet of its battery-powered bikes for testing, each with a price tag of around $10,000.
According to Zero, the unspecified number of motorcycles is currently being evaluated under operational conditions, so you might as well start looking both ways wherever you are, just to be on the safe side.