High profile billionaire and former presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, is now on the cusp of releasing the fruits of his pet project, the Yo-Mobil. This is projected to be Russia’s first hybrid car.
This environmentally friendly hybrid electric car was introduced in 2010 and would be built by Yo-Auto, a joint venture company between truck maker Yarovit and the Onexim investment group of Prokhorov. The company is expected to begin car production by the second half of 2012.
The central production plant for the Yo-Mobile is located near St. Petersburg projected at about 45,000 cars per annum. Amongst the plans is to sell these cars abroad. The project has the backing of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
Prokhorov is said to be Russia’s richest man with an estimated net worth of U.S.$14.1 billion back in 2008. The car is a Golf class sedan with a projected sticker price of 8,800 euros or U.S.$12,500. This is the first of its kind in Russian industry as it seeks to become independent of raw material export economy model to become a knowledge-based innovation economy.
Russian analysts though downplay the project as there needs to be sales of several tens of thousands of vehicles to be able to reap profits from investments. Another problem area would be the difficulty in sourcing quality components for these high technology vehicles. A third issue would be the projected price as many other carmakers are pegging similar vehicles at just U.S.$10,000.
In a related move, the company using the Yo-Auto name has registered twelve trademarks to the country’s patent service. Names such as “Yo-Wow”, “Yo-Phone”, “Yo-you” are some of the names prefixed with the monicker “yo” that is going to be developed by Prokhorov as new businesses in line with the Yo-Mobile EV. One projected application would be the use of the “Yo-Phone” as a mobile phone that would utilize Bluetooth technology to start the vehicle or contact the service center.
The Yo-Mobile would have two electric motors to move it forward and a small internal combustion engine that can use either gasoline or natural gas to be able recharge the batteries. Instead of charging the batteries directly, the Yo-Mobile’s generator would power the motors directly or fills a bank of capacitors to allow a small charge to be stored. The car is expected to run 67 miles per gallon, which is higher than any current hybrid or electric car vehicle platform in the market today.