Published December 29, 2011
By Jeff Cobb
This week Russian automaker Yo-Auto said it would begin offering Russia its first hybrid car by December 2012.
The company caught attention at the Frankfurt auto show when it showed an avant-garde model with sliding doors (see video below) as one of the unique vehicles to be offered by billionaire company founder, Mikhail Prokhorov, 46.
Yo-Auto has said for its first models, it would like to sell “peoples’ cars” for under $10,000 each.
It is now accepting pre-orders for the vehicles which have the option to run on CNG or petrol, and either two- or four-wheel drive.
Other features Yo-Auto promises to equip as standard include:
• Multifunctional steering wheel
• Touchscreen control panel
• Climate control
• GPS navigation system
• Automatic ICE start/stop
• Remote diagnostics
• Audio amplifier output
• Optional rear view camera
• Optional road sings module recognition
• Multimedia system with "extended ё-functionality," internet access, audio or video playback from external USB storage devices, hands-free phone system.
Yo-Auto has also been racing a hybrid car using a rotary vane engine that works on petrol and natural gas and is linked to a pair of electric motors. This "Yo-Mobile" uses a super-capacitor instead of a lithium-ion battery pack.
While more details have yet to come forth about its inexpensive production car, the company’s site also shows a light commercial truck and a passenger crossover utility vehicle, says it has major plans, and explained some of its philosophy as follows:
At various times, different countries have produced people’s cars. The main features of such vehicles were related to mass production and price.
Why then do we call ё-mobile vehicles people’s cars? Hundreds of Russian inventors, qualified engineers, and common, self-educated people were involved in the development of the ё-mobile’s design. More than 3,000 design solutions were received by our company in less than a year, and among them we have discovered profound applications that facilitate production technology. Therefore, everything is dedicated to achieving the best, most-affordable consumer properties.
In general, the ё-mobile concept refuses to consider any inefficient solutions.
“We have also created a database of breakthrough developments for the future development of the ё-mobile and other products,” the company continues. “If you have ideas that can be implemented in the ё-mobile’s design, please send them to: firstname.lastname@example.org”
So Yo-Auto's designs involve collaboration writ large, and the company itself is actually a joint venture between truck manufacturer Yarovit Motors and Prokhorov’s Onexim Group located near St. Petersburg, Russia.
Prokhorov also owns the New Jersey Nets basketball team and has announced his intention to run for the Russian presidency in 2012 against current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
He made his $18 billion or so in metals and banking, was ranked by Forbes as third richest person in Russia, 32nd richest in the world, and one of his personal modes of transportation is a 202-foot yacht that he reportedly charters out for $325,000 per week.
With regards to his political aspirations, Prokhorov recently said on Russian TV, “If I become president, I won’t be able to party anymore,” and, “If the country says it’s necessary, I’ll marry.”
In 2007 he was detained for several days by French police on charges of "pimping" while vacationing with friends and eight women believed to be prostitutes.
Meanwhile, as a member of the one-tenth of one percent, he says he is willing to be just as sober as he attempts to put many of his countrymen belonging to the 99 percent into his company’s innovative, frugal, but well-equipped green automobiles.
"I have a very strong team and a highly-skilled and professional staff and all the projects I announced in business will be implemented in full," he said.
Yo-Auto's annual production capacity is estimated at 45,000 cars. Intentions are to double this after a second stage of the plant is built.