By on August 23, 2018

Image: Kalashnikov

You don’t have to be from a former Eastern Bloc country to feel strange pangs of desire for this Russian one-off. Built by Kalashnikov — yes, that Kalashnikov — the CV-1 concept car features an old body concealing an advanced electric powertrain.

The maker of the AK-47, AK-74, and various other automatic small arms apparently wants to stamp out Tesla’s decadent invasion of the Motherland’s fledgling EV market.

If you took one look at this car and said, “Hey, isn’t that an IZH-21252 Combi?”, you’d be correct. Kalashnikov used the beloved Soviet car, which started production in 1973 and didn’t stop until 1997, as the basis for the CV-1.

Image: Kalshnikov

A testbed for the company’s new powertrain components, the retro-chic CV-1 improves on the Combi’s aesthetics in a manner sure to please dystopian near-future filmmakers. It’s amazing what you’re able to do with a simple grille insert and some LED strips. Brezhnev would approve.

Kalashnikov claims the vehicle generates 295 horsepower, drawing juice from a 90 kWh battery pack. Featuring a “revolutionary” inverter capable of handling gobs of current and an advanced (or at least contemporary) powertrain monitoring system, both developed in-house, the vehicle offers a driving range of 217 miles. Memories of the Warsaw Pact come standard. Unlike the original hatchback, this vehicle rockets to 62 miles per hour in 6 seconds.

“This technology allows us to stand alongside and compete with global electric car manufacturers such as Tesla,” a Kalashnikov spokesperson told Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

While the CV-1 surely created a stir in its corner of Army-2018 international military and defense exhibition, there’s no word on when Kalashnikov actually plans to start building a production car.

Teslas remain rare in Russia, as the only way to get your hands on one is to import it. No stores, repair facilities, or Supercharger stations exist. Still, there’s 300 of them in the country, and that number could soon double. According to Bloomberg, mobile phone retailer Svyaznoy recently added Tesla vehicles to its catalog, leading to 236 orders in June alone.

[Source: The Moscow Times] [Images: Kalashnikov]

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49 Comments on “Red Star for Effort: Gunmaker-built Russian EV Earns Top Marx For Retro Done Right...”


  • avatar
    Mullholland

    See the U.S.S.R in a Kalashnikov Car!
    (With apologies to Diana Shore)

  • avatar
    gtem

    Izh Kombis are really cool, it was a big deal in the mid 70s in the USSR when they released this very up-to-date 5 door hatchback shape. My grandpa had a ’87 Kombi from the Izhevsk factory that he waited in line for to buy and was given priority as a retirement gift. 1500cc slant 4 SOHC with 75hp (BMW 1500 copy), carb, 4spd manual, leaf sprung rear end. They kept making them like that right up through the mid 90s. The Izhevsk cars were supposedly superior in build quality to the AZLK (Moscow) cars, the AZLK cars were a bit fancier in terms of front styling, the 80s Izhevsk cars had simple stamped steel grills painted black, the AZLKs got more modern plastic bumper trim and grilles.

    Compared to the Fiat based Ladas the Moskvitches are narrower and interior ergonomics and hardpoints are from the early 60s, but are generally regarded as being softer riding and more durable. The Lada OHC motors are considered to be more tractable for everyday use and vastly superior transmissions. The Moskvitch slant 4 is for the enthusiast, a motor that lives for revs, which clashes with the dowdier handling and design of the rest of the car.

    • 0 avatar
      ThirdOwner

      >carb, 4spd manual

      I bet the Kalashnikov product, though, is _automatic_. If you get my drift.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I will say, both Izhevsk 412/Kombis and Kalshnikovs must share the mentality of “loose tolerances (big panel gaps) = good.” You could easily fit a finger in the uneven panel gaps. Sheetmetal was thick but still rust-prone. My grandpa’s had been in a fender bender, he had taken the fender off, hammered it back roughly into shape, and painted the damaged area with a brush. He was also a big fan of chicken wire and blue electrical tape.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          btw this is the more basic painted steel “Izh” front grill design throughout most of the 80s and into the 90s:

          https://goo.gl/images/onnGVB

          The Izh-412 Moskvitch had the same exact front end as well, I had an uncle who got his ’87 sedan at the same time my grandpa got his more prestigious Kombi:

          https://goo.gl/images/MZ7Fpm

          • 0 avatar
            CaddyDaddy

            gtem. God Bless You, you are the type of commentator that seperates TTAC from jal**nik. Again, thanks.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I appreciate the kind words CaddyDaddy. I’m actually on my way out to Siberia now, I always take plenty of car-related pics. I’d love to do a photo-essay of the Soviet iron and newer Russian cars that are still prevalent in my grandmas village, and the stark contrast to the right hand drive Japanese imports and fancy new Land Cruisers they share the roads with.

          • 0 avatar
            JohnTaurus

            I’m very interested to see that, Gtem.

      • 0 avatar
        jpolicke

        It’s… selectable. Full or semi automatic.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      gtem,

      your grandpa had a car?

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        @slavuta

        Yep. Per my father, by the late 80s the lines for cars were no longer as bad, particularly the old school Moskvitches (there was no line at all for the lowly butt-of-jokes Zaporozhets). Everyone was still chasing the Tolyatti-made Ladas (by then the modernized 2105 and 2107 had come out). Arthur my grandfather was a Party member, but one of the lowly working class guys, he started out driving tractors and combines, once his eyesight degraded he worked in a lumber mill until his retirement. I’m pretty sure either he or my grandma may have gotten a “Hero of Socialist labor” award and maybe that helped with getting a boost in the line for a car (if there indeed was one). The sad irony is that my grandfather’s family were victims of dekulakization not once but twice, yet his father and him ended up being party members anyways.

        Back to cars, around the same time in the late 80s, my dad bought his well worn ’71 ZAZ-966 Zaporozhets on the small but legal used car market. He paid 1200 rubles for it, mostly to gain access to a spot in the co-op garage complex that was being built, which in turn would get us a roomy root cellar, the main motivator for even acquiring the car in the first place. You had to prove you owned a car to buy in to the garage complex.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          gtem,

          actually, there were few ways or as you say “lines” to get a car. 1 – general line. You could “sit” in it for 6-10 years. 2 – your work place union distribution. But here could be huge differences, depending on where you worked. Being typical member of CP wouldn’t help you much, unless you worked for a governing body. Their line moved fast. If you worked for big name company – their line moved faster than if you work in some small organization. If you worked in the shack like bread store – forget about. If you are teacher or plumber, you would be only able to be in line #1. 3 – you worked in the “remote and cold territories”. These people had their and pretty quick line (2 years). They also made a lot of money, so they could buy one without line, just overpaying. 4 – farm workers. Those had special needs line – Niva, UAZ, motorcycles. Yes, purchasing 2WD Ural with sidecar was also not as easy.
          See, many of those who “stood” their line and purchased a car, sold it ASAP for profit. The “workers of north” or those who earned side money were quick to pick these up.
          You are correct. Some cars were available relatively quick. Ladas and Volgas were mostly long wait. But also because many were given to athletes, musicians, etc. After each Olympics hundreds of these cars were given to gold medalists, coaches, etc. Soccer/hockey players when moving to new teams would get typical treatment – apartment and car. So, they delayed lines. Typical example – sport club Dynamo is actually police club. They would share same bosses as police and all players would be police officers. Police gets 100 cars for this year. Line goes. But if they sign 3 players, 3 cars are pinched from the line. So, 3 happy real officers will be waiting little longer. And so on.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I think it was your 2nd listed option, through work. And both my uncle and grandpa both got their ’87 Izhs from the same batch, they must have been close in line.

          • 0 avatar
            Tele Vision

            An old boy in a town near me has a 2WD Ural. He drives it year-round. Only in his town, though: I don’t think it -or he – can handle 100 Km/h on the highway in -28C.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Tele-vision go deep enough in the sticks (basically outside of any bigger cities) and you can still find those Urals with sidecars at work hauling potatoes, hay, lumber, you name it. Shortly before his untimely death, my dad’s dad who was a up and coming steam engine engineer bought their first family vehicle, a Dnepr with a sidecar. Shortly after that he was fatally wounded in a hunting accident and my grandma ended up having to learn how to ride that sidecar bike as a young single mom with kids. She was tough as nails to bring up a family on her own in the Siberian Far East in those days.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      @Gtem: Your grandfather must have received this as a reward for services ‘to the state’. A high honour.

      As for the tolerance in Soviet built autos, I have heard a number of stories about one factory purchasing and installing Japanese ‘robotic’ devices that could not function properly because of the disparity in tolerances. The Japanese machined continually registered ‘errors’ due to the gaps they sensed.

      However, just with their firearms, Soviet engineers accepted/realized that larger tolerances could increase the robustness and ease of ‘field repair’ of a piece of equipment/machinery. Particularly when operating in frigid, or dusty conditions.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Retro chrome door handles do it for me. I want one!

  • avatar
    slavuta

    Izhevsk is fine city. In its hey day they probably produced just about everything, from refrigerators to heavy artillery.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      The armory has a rich history beyond the AK47 that made “IzhMash” famous as well, they cranked out a ton of Mosin bolt action rifles during the war. My own M44 carbine is an Izhevsk product.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        I really want a Mosin carbine. But I want 1944 and later. If you get 1933 or something, this gun must be went through 5 wars and was shot corrosive ammo a lot.

        • 0 avatar
          gtem

          Mine’s a 1944 production, was never issued in war time, most likely was re-issued for training or parade use. It has the fold-out attached bayonet. It has a very decently preserved barrel in terms of corrosion, but it’s no show piece. I shoot cheap steel core bulgarian surplus through it and make sure to immediately clean the barrel afterwards (boiling water then the usual patches and gun lube).

    • 0 avatar

      I remember they made guns called “Izh”. We had them sold in local sporting goods stores. To buy one you needed the licence of course. Izh vs Lada was like American cars of malaise era vs German cars.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        IzhMash made a whole line of hunting and sporting guns in addition to their military-spec stuff. If there’s one thing Russians have a good handle on is making a sturdy and affordable firearm.

        • 0 avatar
          Tele Vision

          A friend of mine loves the SKS. He has several of them. He shoots a refurbished East German model but has four Soviet models in shipping grease – absolutely untouched. He won’t sell me one, unfortunately.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            I’d love to acquire an SKS, good condition ones go for $500 and up these days, especially an original Russian one. It’s amazing because I hear stories from older guys about how they used to be cheap as chips, $75 a piece, bought as sturdy utility guns, good for hogs. I suppose the mosin bolt actions are going in the same direction, I’m glad I grabbed my M44 when I did, prices have gone up for them too since then.

            I was watching an excellent documentary about modern day fur trappers in Siberia (“Happy People” on YouTube), and it was neat to see what they used as their bear-defense weapons. Yup, mosin carbines and SKS rifles slung over their backs getting covered with snow and generally banged around.

  • avatar
    RHD

    It looks like a used car that was bonded and repainted at Earl Scheib.

    How will it handle 70 MPH with that brick-wall aerodynamic profile?

  • avatar
    dejal1

    A better looking result than that twits’ 2008 Edsel.

  • avatar
    RHD

    New QOTD idea: What older car would you like to see come back as an all-electric vehicle? This assumes the manufacturer still has the body panel dies available.
    The Studebaker Hawk could ride again!
    Personally, I would love a modern electric-powered 1935 Deusenberg.

    • 0 avatar
      993cc

      So many possibilities.
      Jaguar E-type has been done.
      I’d like to see: Citroen DS, Citroen C6, (I wonder about the battery drain to run the hydraulics, though), Saab 95, Any Tatra sedan, Avanti, Porsche 914, Corvair, Chrysler Airflow…

  • avatar
    Null Set

    I lived in the USSR for a bit as a teenager, and for it to be truly authentically Soviet-retro the windshield wipers would have to be detachable. Drivers back then would always remove their windshield wipers and lock them in their cars when they left them for any reason, otherwise they would be stolen. That said, it’s a great look, for those of us who can feel actual nostalgia for that look. Kind of like people who get misty eyed over 8-inch floppy disks.

    • 0 avatar

      You forgot about wheels – did they take them out too? Sounds a lot like modern day San Francisco except there were no human excrements on the streets.

    • 0 avatar
      slavuta

      there is a good channel where uncle Vanya tests these old cars https://www.youtube.com/user/zenkevichru2/videos

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        I love the Zenkevich short reviews! A lot of modern younger reviewers just crap all over the old Soviet stuff, their context being modern European/Japanese models. This guy presents cars within the context of the time and place and appreciates things a lot more.

        • 0 avatar
          slavuta

          here it is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7apJeJWeKM

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Yep. I’ve watched that one many a time. That and the “ushastiy” ZAZ-966, and I like the old truck and bus reviews too. My mom learned to drive a GAZ-51 as part of her mandatory training (women’s version of conscription was learning first aid and driving trucks). Her instructor was a perpetually hung over fellow, he’d just hand her the keys and have her drive around with him trying to sleep it off in the passenger seat.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    The replacement of internal combustion engines with electric batteries is going to lead to more non-traditional manufacturers entering the car biz. The hardest part is out of the equation. When do we see an Ikea car?

  • avatar

    Why Russian Government does not buy FCA and be done with it? FIAT has a long and glorious history in Russia. And as a bonus they can supply Jeeps for the Red Army.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    I want one of these, big time. And Russia might be the only country that Trump won’t put tariffs on, so who knows, maybe there’s a chance!

    But those wheel offsets are show-car nonsense. The front wheels literally wouldn’t turn like that. Maybe if the car rides on airbags that rise to near 4×4 level so the fronts can clear the fender lip (the car does look like it’s bagged).

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      Russia is actually getting even more sanctions in a few days, and yet another round to follow after that.

      • 0 avatar

        Russia is getting sanctions non-stop since 1918. Russia eats sanctions like that for breakfast. All that hysteria around Russia reminds me McCarthyism: The Reds are coming, The Reds are coming! In 50s it was a tragedy but this time around is a comedy.

      • 0 avatar
        slavuta

        America, as we know it, will be destroyed from within, not by Russia, China or ISIS. And our ruling cast really naive and don’t see its coming.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          says the guy whose username and diction sound very, um. Eastern European.

          edit: actually this is funny, since there are at least two Russians in this side thread.

          • 0 avatar
            gtem

            Jim I think immigrants like slavuta and I are truly saddened and worried about what is going on in the US and the direction things are heading in, compared to the country we immigrated to back in the (in my case) early 90s. We’re the last people you’ll see rooting for America to fail. We’re also saddened by the deterioration in relations between the two countries. I truly think a good relationsship is within th realm of possibility and would be a win-win. Both American and Russia would be wise to build ties with each other to counterbalance China. Henry Kissinger agrees.

          • 0 avatar
            slavuta

            I think, gtem summarized it pretty good for you. We already saw these things happen and even participated in them. We know how $hit can start flying out of nowhere. x-USSR Americans are the best people America received. Because they seen totalitarian regime and fully support capitalism, private property, etc. Indians come here for money, Chinese to spy, Mexicans to feed families in Mexico. But those who came from USSR, came here for American values, assimilated and made absolutely fine Americans. Seriously, country is so polarized, it is not going to be peaceful for very long.

        • 0 avatar

          It is already happening before our eyes. It is a slow process it took several hundred years to happen in Rome and started with civil war between Cesar and Pompeius.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    Is this the modern version of beating swords into plowshares?

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