• 2018 Kalashnikov CV-1 (Russian EV)

Musk, Be Worried, The Russians Are Coming With An EV From The 1970s

Kalashnikov made a car called the CV-1. Yes, that Kalashnikov - the producer of the AK-47 - a rifle that helped a lot in shaping the world. Or obliterating it. It depends how you look at it. Now, when the company is doing all it can to reinvent its business by launching a fashion brand, selling phone cases and what not, one part of Kalashnikov actually made a concept car. It’s electric, it looks like a 1970s Russian wagon, and it should fight Tesla. I am not joking.

Presenting the car at the International Army-2018 forum, Sofia Ivanova, Kalashnikov Spokeswoman said “We’re speaking about competing namely with Tesla because it is currently a very successful project in the field of electric vehicles. We expect that, at minimum, we won’t fall behind them.”

Well, some bold words are coming from Ivanova, so I was wondering if there’s any real truth to this. Should Elon Musk and Tesla be afraid? Should the car world as a whole be afraid of the Kalashnikov CV-1?


Starting with exterior looks, one has to say that the Kalashnikov has some presence and character. The Russians opted for retro styling for the CV-1. And, while it might seem like the company designed a whole new car, the truth is far from it. The body of the CV-1 is actually that of a car known as the Izh-21252 Kombi.

This is a wagon from 1970s Russia that was based on a Moskvich 412.

With that said, the exterior of the car is that classic, sad Russian design from the Seventies, now drizzled with numerous modern pieces such as a large single-frame grille that surrounds the lights up front. These are LED units, of course, but instead of looking modern and sophisticated, I feel the front LEDs look like some eBay pieces you’d put on your bicycle or something.

And what’s with that small mouth down there under the grille? I don’t get it.

The back of the car isn’t much better either. It is a clean design but looks more like an amateur project from Poland than like a real car envisioned by a massive company.

Honestly, the Kalashnikov CV-1 looks like a German clean design tuning project.

That design involves removing all the necessary pieces from the exterior, smashing large wheels, painting the car in some kind of pale hue, and tinting the windows. Well, this ticks all the boxes there, doesn’t it?

While the car would look decent, if not even awesome in the lines of an amateur clean design project, I find myself pressed hard to think of it as a Tesla competitor. There may be, however, something underneath its 21252 Kombi body to revolutionize the entire EV business. A piece of tech for example. Like a “revolutionary inverter.” More on that a bit later.


2018 Kalashnikov CV-1 (Russian EV)
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No one saw the interior. Like, NO ONE. First of all, the car features 100 percent window tint which hides all the amazing EV technology, a cabin with things like a virtual cockpit system, voice-controlled virtual assistant, climate system unlike any other, and a soothing atmosphere worthy of the Star Trek series.

Just joking, they did not say any of these things.

I’d go out on a limb here and say that the interior, as I could rationally imagine it, actually isn’t there at all. Instead, I think it is full of wires, exposed batteries and pieces from the original 1970s Izh the CV-1 is based on. That is just a thought, though. No one would be happier to see something like a virtual reality screen, tilting seats, and autonomous drive buttons in there than me.

Drivetrain & Performance

2018 Kalashnikov CV-1 (Russian EV)
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Let’s be frank, apart from being fast, tech proficient, and nice-looking, what makes Tesla vehicles so appealing is its image and the fact that rich people can buy it. Kalashnikov isn’t a name you’d necessary link with the rich, but even if the company made the car based around the old chassis, it did one thing right. It made the CV-1 fairly powerful.

As it turns out, the power of the electric drivetrain in the Kalashnikov CV-1 is estimated at 680 horsepower. While I did not find many specs about the car, it is fairly possible that all the power goes to all four wheels. Electricity, however, comes from a 90-kWh battery. That is a huge battery. It is double the size of the battery in the Nissan Leaf, for example.

One would expect an extreme range with it, but the Russians actually provided a range of 217 miles.

Don’t be disappointed. The Russians are probably truthful about the range. Something we should be thankful for and not ridicule.

What I am a bit disappointed about is the 0-62 mph time of just 6 seconds.

See, I look at this Kalashnikov CV-1 project the same as I looked at the first electric car by Rimac - the electric BMW E30. To come under the world spotlight, Mate Rimac did some extraordinary stuff with his electric E30. It is a car with 600 horsepower, 664 pound-feet of torque; it will surge from 0-62 mph in 3.3 seconds, run a quarter mile in 11.3 seconds, and hit 174 mph. These are some serious performance figures that made the Rimac E30 the world record holder for the one-eighth of a mile run with a 7.55-second run, the quarter-mile record holder at 11.8 seconds, the half-kilometer record holder at 13.7 seconds, and the one-mile record holder at 35.35 seconds. I do not see the Kalashnikov CV-1 achieving any similar extremes.

2018 Kalashnikov CV-1 (Russian EV)
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Ok, the Kalashnikov maybe isn’t all about performance, but it needs to excel somewhere, and I have yet to see where that somewhere is. With Rimac, I knew it right away - speed. With the Kalashnikov - I don’t. And if it wanted to do something retro-flavored like that Jag E-Type Zero, Kalashnikov could have chosen something more spirited than an Izh Kombi.

Now, the company did say that the CV-1 features some sort of a revolutionary inverter.

Considering that is all that was said on the matter, I am yet to be convinced of its revolutionary nature. It is better in converting DC into AC. But how?

“This technology will let us stand in the ranks of global electric car producers such as Tesla and be their competitors,” Kalashnikov Press Office reported. They’ve also added, “we were inspired by the experience of global market leaders in developing our concept.”


2018 Kalashnikov CV-1 (Russian EV)
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Yes, I did start this article by subtly ridiculing Kalashnikov for its efforts, but that is just wrong. This is their first electric car, based around something long gone. Tesla started similarly - with the Lotus-based Roadster. Rimac started in a humble manner - with the electric BMW E30. Look at them now; they are all well-known companies that make strides, employ people, and provide technology leaps. Is it possible that the Kalashnikov actually imagined an electric car for the Russian and eastern markets and consumers there?

The best way to get noticed there is to offer something people there are acquainted with - like a Russian Kombi from the Seventies in its modern guise.

After all, I think that Kalashnikov, despite all the ridicule it received from the Internet after revealing the car, should proceed with the development and unveil a fully working prototype with known specs.

And please tell us what the heck is that “revolutionary inverter”?

Further reading

2018 Nissan Leaf Drivetrain
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Read more electric car news.

Safet Satara
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