Elon Musk's electric car company, Tesla Inc. (TSLA), has got new competition. The Russian firearms manufacturer Kalashnikov, famous for the deadly AK-47 assault rifle, has unveiled a new electric car that is expected to compete head-on with the popular American counterpart. (See also: Who Are Tesla's Main Competitors?)
Known as the CV-1, Kalashnikov unveiled the retro-looking electric vehicle at the Army-2018 weapons exhibition near Moscow last week. The design is inspired by the Soviet Union's popular 1970s-era Izh-Kombi hatchback. A price is yet to be revealed by the company.
Speaking with Russian news site RBC, company spokesperson Sofia Ivanova confirmed that the Russian arms maker is specifically targeting Tesla, calling the American electric vehicle (EV) maker is “the industry standard,” reports Rappler. "We are talking about competing precisely with Tesla, because at present it is a successful project in the field of electric vehicles," she said. "We expect to at least keep up with it."
Boxy By Design
However, there are some marked differences between Tesla cars and the prototype unveiled by Kalashnikov. While Tesla maintains sleek and simple design for its vehicles, which are often compared to the Apple iPhone, Kalashnikov’s CV-1 has a different inspiration altogether. It goes with a boxy look, sharp lines, and a very steep windshield.
The two cars also differ a lot In terms of comparative performance. Kalashnikov claims that its car will be able to hit a speed of 62 mph in six seconds flat, while Tesla Model S can achieve that speed limit in around 2.5 seconds. CV-1 will be capable of traveling 217 miles on a single charge, while Tesla Model S can cover a 335-mile range.
The Russian company is also reportedly developing a hybrid buggy and an electric motorcycle.
Real Competition for Tesla?
Expert opinions vary over the Kalashnikov product and to the extent to which it can compete with Tesla. A few call it a PR stunt. The company has recently ventured into new business segments that include iPhone covers, umbrellas and a new 13-foot combat robot named Little Igor. Following American sanctions on Russia over the annexation of Crimea, Kalashnikov’s arms exports have dropped significantly, forcing it to look for for diversification beyond weapons. (See also: Rasa's Hydrogen Car to Take on Tesla.)
Others believe that despite releasing a prototype, Kalashnikov may find it difficult to achieve commercial success. "Releasing a concept is a far cry from being able to offer a viable product and producing it successfully," Christian Stadler, a professor of strategic management at the U.K.'s Warwick Business School, told CNN Money. "I don't think the company has the technology or deep pockets it takes to make this a success." (See also: German e-Carmakers Will Beat Tesla by 2021: Study.)