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In Nolan's The Dark Knight, I noticed that the Batpod:

  • makes a characteristically different sound than the Batmobile
  • seems to have the torque associated with electric motors

That made me wonder: is the Batpod battery-powered?

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In universe... maybe. Not much detail is given. It's clearly intended as a state-of-the-art type vehicle, but it's never outright stated.

In real life, No. It's not an all-electric vehicle. It has a gas/diesel engine, with the required exhaust system. It's propulsion is provided by combustion, not electric drive. It's only as electric as any modern vehicle, electrically powered control systems.

When he first laid eyes on the Bat-Pod mockup, special effects supervisor Chris Corbould wasn't sure if his director actually knew anything about motorcycles. But that's what makes The Dark Knight at once a throwback superhero movie and a green-screen-light breakthrough in digital Hollywood: It turns fantasy into reality. And building a concept vehicle without a team of automotive engineers was one of its biggest challenges. "The gauntlet had been thrown down," Corbould says.

While the filmmakers and Warner Brothers have been tight-lipped about any vehicle specs in the movie, Corbould clearly had to reinvent how a motorcycle's systems make it run. Nolan and Crowley's original sketches had no tailpipe, but anything with a motor needs an outlet for exhaust. Weaving around the bike's carbon-fiber and Kevlar body and steel chassis, the design team built the exhaust system into the frame, ducting it through the hollow steel/aluminum/magnesium tubing. Two months later, the high-performance, water-cooled, single-cylinder engine--geared toward the lower end for faster acceleration--was ready to power the Pod.

All-Electric vehicles do not have or need an Exhaust system. The Tesla Roadster, The Zero FX, and Harley-Davidson LiveWire are examples of this. The Avengers: Age of Ultron had Black Widow ride the LiveWire prototype, making it All-Electric in and out of universe, though in universe it would be a Stark Tech product. The Batpod/Dark Knight universe had no similar technology.

The sound though, is specifically designed around the Tesla Roadster's all-electric sound though.

Even though the Batpod itself is powered by a conventional internal combustion engine, the moviemakers wanted the machine add tension to the chase scenes in two ways. First, Batman is very exposed on the bike, unlike the heavily armored Tumbler, so we're more worried about the hero. Second, by using a Shepard Tone, the director could continually increase the pitch. The team wanted to start with something real before playing around on a computer to create the tone, and the Roadster's electric motor provided part of the underlying tone.

They further note:

If you have access to the two-disc Dark Knight DVD, you can learn more in the "Evolution of the Knight" featurette on the bonus features disc. At about minute 5, the video starts describing the Batpod and, at 9:30, it gets into sound design. There's a brief video of the Tesla recording session at minute 10.

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  • That explains why it sounded vaguely familiar. Thanks! Apr 7, 2016 at 14:28

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