Move over, Elon Musk: Kalashnikov unveils ‘electric supercar’ to rival Tesla

A handout picture taken on August 22, 2018 and released by Kalashnikov media press office, shows a retro-looking pale blue prototype electric car, the CV-1, produced by Russian arms maker Kalashnikov, in Moscow. (AFP/ KALASHNIKOV MEDIA)
Updated 23 August 2018
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Move over, Elon Musk: Kalashnikov unveils ‘electric supercar’ to rival Tesla

MOSCOW: Russian arms maker Kalashnikov on Thursday presented its new electric car inspired by a rare 1970s model, saying the new technology will rival Elon Musk’s Tesla.
The brand, best known for the AK-47 machine gun, presented the decidedly retro-looking pale blue prototype, the CV-1, at a defense expo outside Moscow.
The look was inspired by a Soviet hatchback model developed in the 1970s called “Izh-Kombi,” a statement on the Kalashnikov website said.
Holding company Kalashnikov Concern said it has developed some cutting-edge elements for the “electric supercar,” including a “revolutionary” inverter. The vehicle can travel 350 kilometers on one charge.
“We are developing our own concept of an electric supercar, which is based on several original systems developed by the concern,” the firm said.
“This technology will let us stand in the ranks of global electric car producers such as Tesla and be their competitor,” RIA-Novosti further quoted the Kalashnikov press-service as saying.
“We were inspired by the experience of global market leaders in developing our concept.”
Kalashnikov Concern has long been trying to expand its brand, recently launching lines of clothing and other civilian merchandise ranging from umbrellas to mobile phone covers.
Its foray into electric vehicles however was met with mixed reactions from Russians. Comments to the news on the company’s official Facebook page ranged from “cyberpunk” to “Izh-Zombie.”
“Your tanks are great, but it would be better if you stayed away from cars,” one user wrote.
Earlier this week, online users ridiculed Kalashnikov’s new bipedal combat robot. The golden-color machine, reportedly named “Igorek” in production stages, immediately became a subject of social media memes.
“Somebody had watched too much ‘Robocop’,” tweeted user happy__keanu, referring to the 1987 action film about a cyborg law enforcer.


Audi launches electric SUV in Tesla’s backyard, with assist from Amazon

Updated 18 September 2018
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Audi launches electric SUV in Tesla’s backyard, with assist from Amazon

SAN FRANCISCO: German luxury car brand Audi on Monday staged the global launch of a new electric sport utility vehicle on the home turf of rival Tesla Inc, and highlighted a deal with Amazon.com Inc. to make recharging its forthcoming e-tron models easier.
The Audi e-tron midsize SUV will be offered in the United States next year at a starting price of $75,795 before a $7,500 tax credit. It is one of a volley of electric vehicles coming from Volkswagen AG brands, as well as other European premium brands including Daimler-owned Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volvo Cars and Jaguar Land Rover.
All aim to expand the market for premium electric vehicles and also to grab share of that market from Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which has had the niche largely to itself.
“I want Audi to be the number-one electric vehicle seller in America over the long term,” Audi of America President Scott Keogh told Reuters in an interview on Monday.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who is also head of rocket company SpaceX, planned to mark the e-tron launch occasion by staging a SpaceX event in Los Angeles at roughly the same time on Monday evening as Audi’s unveiling.
Audi and parent Volkswagen are using the US launch of the e-tron SUV in mid-2019 to take aim at one obstacle to expanding electric vehicle sales — the lack of convenient ways to recharge their batteries.
Audi will partner with online retailer Amazon to sell and install home electric vehicle charging systems to buyers of the e-tron, the companies said on Monday. Amazon will deliver the hardware and hire electricians to install them through its Amazon Home Services operation.
Amazon’s partnership with Audi to provide home charging systems is the first time the online retailer has struck such a deal with an automaker, and signals a new front in Amazon’s drive to expand its reach into consumers’ homes beyond the presence of its Alexa smart speakers in living rooms and kitchens.
“We see charging installation as a very important business,” Pat Bigatel, director of Amazon Home Services, told Reuters at Audi’s launch event in San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Center.
Audi executives said home charging stations would cost about $1,000, depending on the home’s electrical system.
Tesla offers wall connectors for home charging at a $500 list price, and will arrange for installation, according to the company.
At the same time, Electrify America, a company funded by Volkswagen as part of its settlement of US diesel emission cheating litigation, plans to launch next year the next round of installations of public charging stations, Electrify America executives told Reuters.
Tesla has developed its own network of Supercharger charging stations with more than 11,000 chargers in North America. Electrify America plans to have 2,000 chargers installed by mid-June next year. Those will be open to any vehicle, and customers can swipe a credit card to recharge.
“We want to work with all” automotive brands, said Giovanni Palazzo, Electrify America’s chief executive.

Lifting the Curtain

Audi has been heralding the launch of the e-tron SUV for some time, but until Monday it had not shared many details of the vehicle.
The e-tron is electric, and has two electric motors — one in the front and one in the rear — driving all four wheels. The Hungarian factory building motors for the e-tron will start with a production pace equivalent to 200 vehicles a day, Audi officials said.
In Europe, the vehicle will use cameras instead of conventional mirrors to give drivers a view to the rear. That feature is still not approved by US regulators.
However, in many other respects the e-tron is a conventional, mainstream luxury SUV. It offers seating for five, and its length and wheelbase position it in the center of the market for midsize, five-passenger luxury SUVs such as the BMW X5. The e-tron is 5 inches (13 cm) shorter than the Tesla Model X, and it has conventional doors. The Model X uses vertically opening “falcon wing” doors.
The e-tron will have an advanced cruise-control system that can keep the car within a lane and maintain a set distance behind another vehicle, but the system will be designed so that drivers must keep hands on the wheel.
Audi officials said they do not have official range estimates for the e-tron SUV under US testing procedures. The e-tron’s 95 kWh battery has less capacity than the 100 kWh battery used in the Tesla Model X 100D model, but more than the base Model X 75D.
The Model X 100D is rated at 295 miles (475 km) of range by the US government.