PHOTO CAPTION: Vladimir Putin with LADA Vesta

Putin Orders Russia to Focus on EVs

Sweeping executive order calls for review and modernization of Russian auto industry with focus to be on mass production of electric vehicles.

Published: 25-Jan-2016

Executive Instruction 51179, issued 18 January 2016 from the Kremlin, directs the government to take the appropriate steps to modernize Russia's auto industry with the goal being to not only reduce the number of imports being brought into the sprawling republic, but to spur the greater export of Russian electric vehicle technology. Specifically, states an English translation of section "b" of the order:

"... the priority areas of scientific and technological development of the Russian automotive industry and develop advanced models of automotive technology, taking into account global trends transition to mass production of electric cars..."

While the rest of the developed world is engaged in a pell-mell race to bring electric car technology to the market, the world's largest nation, spanning eleven time zones, has lagged behind. President Vladimir Putin aims to change that, directing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to implement the order.

Russia has not entirely been a laggard in the development and deployment of electric vehicles. As far back as 2002, Moscow operated in some of its city parks an electric shuttle bus powered by supercapacitors. By 2014, Moscow had installed more than 150 public charging stations, with a goal of as many as 2,000 EVSEs across its larger cities.

Briefly, in a sort of Russian replay of the Fisker fiasco in America, a St. Petersburg startup run by Mikhail Prokhorov, planned to introduce the Yo-Mobile, a hybrid-electric vehicle that could run on both gasoline and natural gas, using a turbine generator and supercapacitors instead of batteries. The project failed and was sold to the government for a token €1.

Most recently, a Russian firm called AvtoVAZ, has adapted the LADA Vesta, similar to that pictured above with Russian President Putin, to electric drive. The car is powered by a 60kW electric motor. It is reported to have a top speed of 150km/h, but a somewhat leisurely acceleration of zero-to-100km/h in more than 15 seconds. The battery pack is said to be lithium-ion, but its driving range hasn't been revealed. Clearly, the Russians need to up their game if they wish to compete in the global EV marketplace.

At the moment, however, Putin has little to worry about in terms of any 'flood' of EVs into Mother Russia. According to Bellona, it's more a trickle. In 2015, they report, Russians imported "82 Tesla Model S electric cars, 27 Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric cars, and 26 electric Nissan Leaf cars."

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