When we think of Russian-made cars, we think of the Lada or the GAZ. The good thing about all Russian cars is that the quality is consistent. Always bad. So is engineering. But if there was one company that could successfully make a “Russian Tesla”, it’s Kalashnikov. Never heard of them? Of course you have it: the “K” in the Soviet AK-47 assault rifle stands for Kalashnikov. Avtomat Kalashnikov 1947, to be exact.
Kalashnikov made more than AK-47s
Back when the AK-47 was a new invention, it was designed and built by Kalashnikov’s Izhevsk Machine-Building Plant. The company produced more than just automatic rifles. Everything from weapons to military robots was created and built there. Above all, it was a source for everything the Russian army had to build.
But right next to where the AK-47 was made was another assembly line. It was for the Moskvich line of automobiles. The name Moskvitch means “a native of Moscow”. He started building cars in the late 1920s.
Kalashnikov’s Moskvich Was A Wretched Car Built For Horrible Roads
The Moskvitch 408 became popular after the war. They were tough because they were coarse. The 408 withstood the miserable conditions of the roads of the Soviet Union, mainly based on truck-type chassis and suspensions.
All were rear-engined sedans, mounted on solid axles and leaf springs. The 408 was eventually exported to other countries, mainly in the Eastern Bloc. But by Russian standards, it served those who could afford a car well.
But when the Soviet Union fell, Moskvitch was in financial difficulty. Soon he stopped manufacturing. Everything was abandoned, including the cars in various stages of completion, and the administrative offices remained completely intact. For decades, if one wanted to start production of Moskvich, the lights could be turned on and you were instantly back to business.
Why was Russia building the Kalashnikov CV-1?
In 2017, the Kalashnikov family thought they could revive car production. They would create an all-electric sedan built to the same engineering standards as Tesla. Thus began the development of the Kalashnikov CV-1.
The basis of this enterprise was the Moskvitch 1500 estate from 1976; mainly a hatchback version of the 408. Why not? There were still many strewn about Mosckvitch’s old factory. But the four-cylinder gastric pump has been replaced by a 90 kWh electric motor.
Supposedly, it could produce 680hp with a range of 220 miles. Not big numbers, but not terrible for 2018. That’s when the CV-1 made its debut at the 2018 Army International Military Forum in Kubinka, Russia. It actually had a kinda cool retro vibe, especially for Russia. Of course, that’s because the body wasn’t retro but just old.
The Russian government’s grandiose statements included things like the CV-1 would “allow us to stand in the ranks of global electric car producers such as Tesla.” One of the reasons was because of its “complex systems” and a “revolutionary inverter”. Russia has therefore announced that it is taking electric vehicle technology to another level. It was expected to hit the market soon.
Does Russia have electric vehicles made in Russia?
But did he? No. In fact, it evaporated. CV-1 was never heard from or seen again. This leads many to suggest that it was just a propaganda tool to show Russia’s progress in electric vehicles when in reality it had none. At least in 2018.
Today, Russian manufacturer Zetta was supposed to start production of the first electric vehicle by the end of 2021. With all the country’s efforts surrounding its ill-conceived and brutal war against Ukraine, those plans are now on hold. And, in fact, that may never happen if global sanctions remain in place. Too bad Vladimir Putin isn’t a car guy, instead of the evil dictator he turned out to be.
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