Kalashnikov swaps arms for electric cars
The Russian weapons manufacturer presents a Soviet-inspired car to compete with Tesla.
Kalashnikov, the newly privatised Russian arms company, has the dubious merit of having sold millions of assault rifles all over the world. Now, the Russian factory intends to repeat the success of its famous AK-47 automatic rifle, but this time – fortunately – with a much less harmful product. On the contrary, its new launch is environmentally friendly and can contribute to a better world.
The product concerned is the Kalashnikov CV-1 , a 100 percent electric car inspired by the mythical Soviet model Izh, which was presented by the company during the Moscow International Trade Fair and Military and Technological Forum 2018. This is yet another attempt by Kalashnikov to diversify its business and expand its brand, with new civil production lines and even a clothing collection.
The ‘Izh’, or Izhmash, which translates as ‘Kombi’, is a combination of a van and an estate-car which during the 1970s reigned supreme on the roads of the former Soviet Union. The model no doubt appeals to the Russian taste for ‘mazacote’ cars – the Lada four-wheel drive and the old Russian Zil limousines still circulate today throughout the current Russian federal republic – but above all it exploits the ideal of the golden era of the Russian empire, in a country that is increasingly looking to its Soviet past to reaffirm its identity.
The front of the CV-1 is deliberately large and equipped with a grille, despite the fact that electric vehicles do not need a radiator to cool their engines, and calls to mind the Soviet era Sukhoi aircraft. The colour chosen for presentation – a very retro light blue – and its square design exploit nostalgia for vintage vehicles, which is also being exploited by Western manufacturers.
And as if the Cold War were about to be reborn, Kalashnikov intends, through this new model, to compete with the American multinational Tesla, according to a representative of the company at the Moscow ARMY 2018 trade fair. “We talk about competing specifically with Tesla because it is currently one of the most successful electric vehicle projects. At the very least we hope not to surrender and to put up a good fight,” said Sofia Ivanova, Kalishnikov’s spokesman for the Russian RBC website.
The arms race to dominate the electric vehicle market has begun, and as if it were a weapon, the new car created by the Russian company is shrouded in secrecy. The company has confined itself to confirming that the model includes “complex systems” and a “revolutionary converter”, and that it has a range of up to 350 kilometers, although its 90Kwh battery suggests that the range could be even greater. Despite its deliberately more ‘retrodynamic’ than aerodynamic design, the CV-1 can go from 0 to 100 in just six seconds.
Nor is it known when the new Kalashnikov machine will be seen on the roads, and what its sales price will be. It remains to be seen whether this five-door model, with a large window in the luggage compartment, a square design and its six small headlamps will captivate consumers, not only in Russia but in the large western markets.
One of the things that is most visible is the absence of external rear-view mirrors. On social networks, many joked about the Russian habit of changing lanes without putting the indicator on, and practically sticking their heads out of the window. Perhaps drivers simply do not need mirrors, or perhaps they have been replaced by some “complex system”, as Kalashnikov’s spokesman says enigmatically.