Cheap Russian hybrids: factory under construction

June 15, 2011 § Leave a comment

Late last year Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov announced a partnership with truck-maker Yarovit Motors to build ‘the world’s cheapest hybrid’. Ground has now been broken to build a factory, and production of 45,000 a year is planned; prices will start from around $13,000, say latest reports (though originally, $7000 was the target once full-scale production was up and running).

The Yo-Avto cars will be mostly sold as CKD (‘complete knock-down’) assembly kits, for final putting-together after export or delivery by local agents, though around 20,000 a year will be completed on-site. The factory’s in an industrial park outside St Petersburg (though original reports suggested Togliatti, Russia’s Detroit) and three models will initially be offered: Yo CrossCoupe (pictured), Yo Microvan (mini-MPV) and Yo Furgon (no idea), all around the same chassis and with the same electric/petrol and CNG- compatible hybrid powertrain capable of 75mph and a range of 249 miles. They’ll do around 80mpg (imperial), apparently. Nearly 123,000 pre-orders have been taken, reports Ward’s Auto.

Autostat reports that the engines are supplied by German firm Weber (maker of powerplants for snowmobiles and similar vehicles), the vehicles’ bodies are plastic, that some engineering work has been carried out under contract by Magna, and that the hybrid system uses supercapacitors to store energy. Further details from Marchmont (a Russian business news service, which reports at length on the Yo-Avto plan) suggest that the engine develops around 60bhp, that the car’s been throughly tested to ensure it’ll operate in minus-50 degree temperatures to cope with a Russian winter – and that at least one of the Yo-cars will be on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show this autumn.

Russia-Now, reporting on Vladimir Putin’s test-drive of prototypes, gives a bit more info: the cars weigh 650-700kg, the engine in the production versions will be a rotary unit (and not the two-cylinder Webers as in the concepts), and there are two 15kW motors, one on each axle, thus giving four-wheel drive. The outer bodyshell is a composite based on a material called Polipropylan, a motor industry first, it says. Intriguing.

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