Thursday, October 10, 2013

TRANSPORTATION OF THE FUTURE: THE FIRST RUSSIAN ELECTRIC CAR

When it comes to cars, energy efficiency and environmental credentials are becoming increasingly important for Russians. Take the recent example of major new developments in electric car technology in Russia: young company Bravo Motors, a resident of the Skolkovo Innovation Centre (the Russian Silicon Valley), is a highly attractive project for foreign investors. Fresh from winning Skolkovo’s Startup Village prize, in addition to taking second place in the Eco Summit 2013 competition in Berlin, RussianForbes magazine has already placed their concept car in the list of the most significant Russian innovations of recent years.
The three-wheeled vehicle – provisionally named the ‘eTrike’, doesn’t fit the typical profile of the Russian automobile industry, with its usual focus on economy class endurance vehicles suitable for harsh weather conditions. The vehicle’s developers prefer to call it a ‘gadget on wheels’ rather than a car, which might be a considerably more appropriate label given their cutting edge approach to design and technology.
An inventor from Astrakhan
The creator of the electric vehicle, 27-year-old Konstantin Artemiev from Astrakhan (Russia), set up Security Stronghold, a successful software development company, in the early 2000s. His own company sells products as far abroad as the United States and is an official partner of Intel and a member of the Microsoft Partner Network. Thus far, Artemiev has invested around $250,000 he made from developing anti-virus software in developing the gadget.
Artemiev modified the vehicle’s design to improve its batteries’ capacity and duration. This resulted in an electric car that can cover 140km on a single charge, exceeding the capacity of the Renault Twizy, a comparable vehicle. However, in the winter power may be more of a challenge for the car due to the expenditure necessary to heat the passenger compartment, making the automobile difficult to imagine as a permanent feature of Russian cities.
The e Trike has a quiet electric motor which allows it to run at speeds of up to 90km per hour, but can be charged from a 220V wall outlet. Its dimensions are no less impressive: in its unfolded state, the car is around two metres long, but it is possible to reduce this by half. This not only increases its mane ovu reability, making it easier to park, but means the e Trike can access pavements, bicycle lanes and narrow streets and easily deal with kerbs and speed bumps.
The car weighs a mere 350kg – about the same as a motorcycle – but the cabin is built to create a comfortable environment for the driver. Further cementing its status as a vehicle for gadget lovers, the e Trike is controlled via a joystick and a touch-screen tablet which also features a navigation system, climate control, an audio and video system, internet and social networking.
Utility
Arenas where the eTrike would be useful are numerous, but perhaps the most obvious place for this type of electric car is, of course, in the field of utility vehicles; for example, in the place of the golf buggies which are typically used in the leisure industry or at launch events set in large venues or outside. Given the present boom in new housing estates being built in Russia, it may also become attractive for those wanting to make quick trips to the shops or to visit their neighbours, for example. Another particularly promising market may include the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.
An ultra-compact electric vehicle such as this will retail at around eight to twelve thousand dollars. However, the e Trike is not without its Russian competitors: Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has also been developing a hybrid vehicle powered by petrol and electric engines. For the time being, it’s enough to say that this appealing little vehicle has plenty of future potential.