Kalashnikov is synonymous with machine gun, but the Russian arms and military equipment giant has recently revealed that it has ambitions in other industries as well. This week, Kalashnikov took the world of cars by surprise, unveiling what it says will rival Tesla: an electric vehicle that can go 220 miles on a single charge, the BBC reports.
The design of the vehicle is emphatically retro: the car was modeled after a 1970s car, the Izh combi, which was the first Soviet hatchback. It looks like the kind of retro design that is more of an acquired taste rather than something sparking immediate attraction, and the car has already received some less than flattering comments on social media, such as this one: "Your tanks are great, but it would be better if you stayed away from cars." Other social media users dubbed the car, officially named CV-1, “Izh zombie”, although others were more favorable, finding cyberpunk elements in the design.
But while the design might be wanting, what’s underneath the hood of the CV-1 might be more interesting—and Kalashnikov is keeping this from the public for now. At the presentation of the EV at a defense expo near Moscow, the company said the car was inspired by Tesla and that it featured a revolutionary inverter—the component that controls the electric motor and changes DC to AC. Kalashnikov also said the supercar, called the CV-1, was “based on several original systems developed by the concern.”
This is not Kalashnikov’s first try at electric vehicles, interestingly enough. Last year, the company showcased an electric motorbike in two versions: one for the military and another for the police. Some 50 bikes from the police line were planned to be used during this year’s World Cup. The bikes have a range of 93 miles. Related: A Saudi-Iran Oil War Could Break Up OPEC
What’s more, Kalashnikov is not the only company in Russia making EVs. Back in 2012, carmaking major AvtoVAZ presented a prototype for an electric Lada—one of the flagship Soviet car brands—dubbed the EVesta. In 2016, it showed a new prototype of the EVesta. Unlike the CV-1, the Lada EVesta is easy on the eye, but like other electric cars, it was difficult for the model to take off for a variety of reasons: harsh weather conditions, lack of charging infrastructure, and the high price tag of EVs.
Yet since 2016 things have changed. In 2017, EV sales in Russia jumped by 28 percent from the previous year, data from research agency Avtostat showed. As impressive as this sounds, in terms of the number of cars, the increase was from 74 EVs in 2016 to 95 in 2017. This is modest, to say the least, given the Russian car market as a whole. And what’s more, most of the EVs sold last year were Teslas. However, a charging infrastructure is being developed, and there are more affordable EV models on the market, which means growth prospects are improving.
What chance does the CV-1 have against Tesla, though? With as little as we know about it right now, it would be safer to say that the chance is slim. It’s not just about the design, in which, if we are being fair, Tesla beats the CV-1 hands down. It’s also about the technology. Tesla has been making EVs for years and has been perfecting them. Kalashnikov, on the other hand, is an arms maker and is good at this. Finding a place on the EV market might prove a serious challenge.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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