Russia Joins EV Race


The largest automaker in Russia, AvtoVAZ, recently unveiled its first prototype electric car for the press at the recent Moscow Auto Show. The vehicle is named El Lada.

In a statement, AvtoVAZ said that the El Lada is “a first in the history of the company”. These new electric vehicles would be used as public transportation taxis in the mountainous Stravpool region in the Russian Caucasus. It is the first prototype under the leadership of Steve Mattin as the chief designer in the Russian car giant. The style of the El Lada EV draws inspiration from the gas powered Lada Kalina, one of the most popular cars in Russian history.

The powertrain is still under wraps but the automaker said that the car can travel a range of 93 miles on a single full charge. The top speed, according to announcements, is at 130 kilometers per hour or about eighty one miles per hour. As for the battery, the El Lada requires eight hours to fully charge the battery on a normal household wall socket.

With this design, the company is allotting low volume production of its first electric car. In previous announcement, AvtoVAZ Vice President for Technical Development Yevgeny Shmelyov, projects that the company would be producing about a hundred El Lada’s in 2012.

One of the major drawbacks of the operation of electric cars in Russia is the very low winter temperatures in many regions of the country. This was identified in a study by the Autostat Analytic Agency and also highlights issues as the lack of a recharging infrastructure, lack of component production and the need to import special components from foreign countries to build the El Lada.

Mr. Igor Komarov, AvtoVAZ President said, brimming with confidence, “AvtoVAZ is different. We have successfully implemented a program of development from the stage of ‘survival’ to the stage of ‘company moves to bring new products to market.’”

He added, “Today we demonstrate future styles of Lada. AvtoVAZ is multibrand and at the end of this year we will start assembling Nissan cars and in 2013 – Renault.”

The public would be able to see Russia’s first electric vehicle when the Moscow Auto Show opens at the Crocus Expo International Exhibition Center on August 31.

New EV from Russian Billionaire


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.

Russia and China to Produce Batteries for EV

Anatoly Chubais, RUSNANO CEO and Shaoping Lu, Managing Director of Thunder Sky Group Limited of China, recently signed an agreement in Beijing establishing the first Russian production of an ultra-capacity lithium-ion battery for Electric Vehicles.The RUSNANO Supervisory Council approved the Corporation's participation in the project last year and since then, the two companies started preparing all the necessary documentation to establish the joint Russian-Chinese venture that led to the signing of the contract between the companies. Thunder Sky Battery Limited is the first company in the world that successfully replaced “PVDF solvent” with solvent binder, producing a rechargeable lithium-ion battery high capacity. The agreement includes an establishment of a joint holdings company based in Russia to start the Lithium-Ion Technology production in the country.

They estimate that the total investment for the project at would reach about13.580 billion rubles or more than 400 million dollars. RUSNANO Managing Director Sergey Polikarpov said that, “This is a remarkable example of cooperation between Russia and China in the science and technology field. The project will help transfer and develop the world’s latest technology in Russia.” The two companies expect the sales of the project’s production to reach 13.1 billion rubles by 2015.

They would establish the High-End Lithium-Ion Battery production plant in Novosibirsk in Russia. The factory will have four fully automated and environmentally friendly production lines that the Thunder Sky group would install, creating more than 500 jobs in the region. A sales and marketing division will also be established to promote the Thunder Sky technology on Russian and East European markets. RUSNANO said that the plant would roll out from its production lines batteries that are primarily used for electric buses and minibuses. The batteries are also used in uninterrupted power supply units for IT, telecommunications and renewable energy systems, the Company added.

Production will be launched next year with an estimated annual production reaching 400 million ampere-hours by 2012, enough to power 12,000 electric vehicles a year, according to RUSNANO. The guaranteed demand for major part of batteries produced in first four years is ensured by the Thunder Sky contracts for the Chinese production of electric vehicles. The Russian market sales are expected to grow along with the demand generated by the production of new and re-equipment of existing model such as GAZelle mini-trucks.

The Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrate Plant will also supply the cathode material and lithium compounds for the batteries production. Other imported ingredients will be gradually replaced by domestic production, giving an impetus for the emergence of new cluster of high technology industries in Russia. The project’s Science and Technology center will adapt the nano-technology developments of Russian scientists and will considerably improve characteristics of the Thunder Sky batteries to create new market niches for their application. The Russian production unit will ensure faster commercialization and implementation of the scientific developments. The Russian company added they could easily reconfigure the flexible modular production process depending on the customer’s demand and the new technology emergence.

According to the McKinsey 2009 forecast, about 10 percent of all cars on the roads will be battery-electric or plug-in vehicles or running solely on electric power. That would create the demand for batteries growing up to $60 billion a year. Europe, USA and China are projected to be the largest markets for electric vehicle batteries.