Kalashnikov Enters the EV Market, Highlights “Revolutionary” Inverter

August 31, 2018 by David Jones

What do automatic rifles and electric vehicles have in common? Kalashnikov wants to be famous for both.

What do automatic rifles and electric vehicles have in common? Kalashnikov wants to be famous for both.

The electric vehicle market was in for a surprise earlier this month at Russia’s Army 2018 expo, when Kalashnikov Group, the iconic maker of firearms and other military grade weapons, introduced a prototype electric supercar called the CV-1 (source in Russian) that company officials touted as a technological breakthrough that would compete directly with Elon Musk’s Tesla.

The CV-1: Kalashnikov's New Electric Vehicle

Kalashnikov said the CV-1, which was modeled on the 1970s Soviet-era Combi, included technology that reportedly would allow acceleration from 0-60mph in six seconds, a range of 217 miles (350 km) per charge, and features a car battery that allows 90 kWh of charging.


The 70s-styled CV-1. Image used courtesy of Kalashnikov media.


In addition, the company boasted that the car included a ‘revolutionary’ inverter technology that allowed 1.2 megawatt hours of energy, despite a compact and lightweight package design.

The surprise announcement created quite a stir throughout the industry. Industry experts, however, say the lack of pricing, detailed specs, and proposed timeline raise a few questions about whether the claims stand up to scrutiny in terms of providing any serious competition with top-of-the-line automakers.

According to the company, the inverter has dimensions of 50x50x100 cm and a mass of 50kg, allowing 1.2 MW of payload. Electric vehicle experts say the limited amount of information on the vehicle specs and the limited capacity of a company like Kalashnikov to go into mass production anytime soon, raises more questions than concerns about raising the bar on the existing market.


An Answer to the Tesla?

Matt DeLorenzo, senior managing editor at Kelley Blue Book, said that with no production facilities or distribution in the U.S., Kalashnikov cannot be considered a serious threat to Tesla. “Also, while the odd retro styling may appeal to some, it's not in the same league as other luxury electric vehicles on the market or coming soon like the Model S and X and the Jaguar I Pace."

DeLorenzo says, in terms of the battery capacity, 90 kWh is mainstream and the 217 miles per charge range is good, but not exceptional. The Bolt and Tesla Model 3 can both go farther per charge.

Regarding the acceleration credited to the inverter, the 0-60mph benchmark ‘pales in comparison’ to Tesla’s Ludicrous mode, he said. In 2016, Tesla announced that its Ludicrous mode could accelerate a vehicle from 0-60mph in 2.5 seconds. At the time, that made the Model S PD100 the third-fastest accelerating production car in the world. Last year, it rose to position two on that list via Ludicrous+ mode, bringing its acceleration to 2.28 seconds.

DeLorenzo added that it's not known whether the CV-1’s ability to recharge can compare to Tesla’s supercharging. “The specifications are rather sparse and, given that this is the first sign of development from this actor, I would quite confidently say that this is not a credible near-term competitor in the EV space,” said Bjorn Nykvist, research fellow at the Stockholm Environment Institute.

Nykvist said the pack range of 90 kWh is likely to become commonplace among automakers soon, so this is not a glimpse too far out into the future. He added that the inverter is not a limiting factor for BEV development. “They can be lighter and more efficient, but capacity is not something that determines the performance of EVs,” he said. He added that critical BEV performance metrics related to the drive train hinge on battery chemistry.


Whether Kalashnikov or other Russian automakers will be able to compete in global markets is up in the air. Also unclear is how ready Russians are to jump on the EV bandwagon. Will the Russian EV market mirror China's electric vehicle boom? Or will it struggle to fully take hold as arguably seen in the US EV market?

What's your take on the emerging EV market? Do you have experience in developing power systems for electric vehicles? Share your experiences in the comments below.

  • Fabio Barone September 06, 2018

    “Features a car battery that allows 90 MWh of charging.”
    This claim is so wrong on so many levels.  This was in paragraph 2; I stopped reading after that.

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    • C
      C_RM September 07, 2018
      Obviously a xlation error. 90 kWh are not so bad, almost matching Tesla Inc.s most powerful EV, Model S and X. Worthwhile reading.
      Like. Reply
    • K
      Kate Smith September 10, 2018
      Thank you for pointing this out, Fabio. The error has been fixed.
      Like. Reply
  • R
    ronsoy2 September 07, 2018

    A “me too” car has no chance against Tesla. Like “me too” computers trying to beat IBM. The battery production capabilities will be the make-or-break factor in a successful car. Tesla wins hands down on that!

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    • C
      C_RM September 07, 2018
      at least for the consumer, competition is always good, monopoly bad ...
      Like. Reply
  • bruce.desertrat September 07, 2018

    I wonder if the battery packs look like big banana clips filled with lithium ion AA cells 8-)

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  • W
    wa3tfs September 08, 2018

    This thing can’t even roll on the street.  If the front wheels are turned and the wheel hits a small bump, the fender will crush.  The only way it could work is if there is no suspension on the front wheels.  This has to be just a mock up just for show.

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  • D
    DVM September 11, 2018

    to wa3tfs
    In the fifties the French Automaker Andre Citroen introduced the ID and DS sedan model where the wheels were almost completely cached @rest.  I guess they called it suspension hydraulastique those days.
    Used now also by the VIP cars like Rolls Royce, Bentley, Mercedes and more..  did it come up in your mind that it is also applied on this Kalasnikov? A next feature is also a fire-proof battery.  In the US they do even more funny tricks with cars.

    Like. Reply
  • Aurora Moretti October 12, 2018

    Not bad idea! As far as I remember, there is still a project with a VAZ 2102. But on older technologies.

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