Anybody who runs a boat with a gas engine on the back and an electric motor on the front is familiar with the gas-electric hybrid concept. When you want to be silent and not breathe engine exhaust, you run the electric motor. When you want to go faster and noise and exhaust are not a problem you run the gas engine.

And, there is another advantage.

I was cruising down the Colorado River above Lake Travis near Austin, Texas, on what had been a pleasant early summer's fishing day. Just as I passed the fork where the Pedernales River joins in, my outboard made an expensive noise and went dead silent - "dead" being the operative word here.

I pulled the engine cowling, removed a spark plug and found it mashed flat and jammed full of aluminum that had previously belonged to that cylinder's piston.

I trimmed the motor out of the water and ran the last mile or so to the launch ramp on the bow-mounted electric motor.

I'd have been stranded without that trolling motor.

The hybrid concept is no longer just available to sportsmen on the water, however.

Bad Boy Buggies of Augusta, Ga., recently introduced the Ambush dual-power-train utility vehicle. The company already had an all-electric four-wheeler in its product lineup, and a long list of companies offer gasoline powered quads.

But the Ambush is both.

Its front wheels are turned by a 48-volt electric drivetrain, and its rear wheels get power from a 16horsepower, 480cc V-twin gas engine.

Electric motors of this size offer a level of performance that can surprise sportsmen who have only run equipment powered by gas engines.

Electric motors have no "power band" and don't need to reach a certain RPM to achieve full power; they deliver maximum torque as soon as they start turning.

Either the front electric or rear gas-powered drivetrain can operate the vehicle independently, or both can operate it in tandem when four-wheel drive power and traction are needed.

An onboard computer synchronizes the gas and electric systems, and drivers can shift between them on the fly using a simple control integrated into the key switch.

The computer also makes sure the two systems play well together in terms of delivering maximum power and efficiency.

Four-wheel hydraulic brakes include a built-in regenerative feature that recharges the electric system during braking.

The Ambush gives hunters, bank or beach fishermen, and other outdoor enthusiasts a range of up to a hundred miles.

A manually locking rear differential can be engaged while in either 2WD gas or 4WD operation to help navigate the toughest terrain, and a momentary-boost switch gives you instant 4WD when you are cruising along in 2WD and get the feeling that it isn't going to get you through a tough spot.

The Ambush has 25-inch trail tires all the way around for sure-footed traction.

Front bucket seats and independent A-arm front suspension with MacPherson struts absorb bumps and jolts, and keeps you both relatively comfortable and camo-side up.

Want to seed a feed plot or drag a trailer full of decoys to your favorite hunting spot early? A 2-inch rear receiver hitch lets you tow implements or a light trailer. A friend of mine pulls a small johnboat behind his four-wheeler and shore-launches it to fish places you simply can't reach with a pickup or SUV, and I see no reason that the Ambush couldn't do the same.

He also mounted a small GPS unit on his handlebars using an aftermarket bracket, and it helps him navigate back country roads and beyond.

The Ambush has headlights and taillights to help you get there before dawn or get back after dusk. And, a blackout switch immediately kills the lights when you realize you are about to spook your quarry, or when you want to go dark and make a stealthy approach with the electric drive.

Safety features include a rollover protection system, hand-actuated parking brake and three-point seatbelts.

Ambush will be available in both a four-passenger model with a rear-facing back seat and a two-passenger model with a 9.6-cubic-foot cargo bed.

You can add options like a winch, power bed lift, gun and bow racks, dry-storage compartment, ammo box, and even a weather enclosure and heater/defroster to keep that wimpy brother-in-law warm, dry, quiet and happy.

I was somewhat surprised to find that all this modern technology isn't going to set you back much more than a conventional side-by-side four-wheeler. The MSRP for an Ambush is $13,999.

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