Prokhorov unveils hybrid car production

Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov says his new hybrid car will be built in Russia's carmaking hub Togliatti. He added production of the so-called Mischa-mobile will start next year, with sales from 2012.

At a meeting with Vladimir Putin, Prokhorov said he hopes to make 10,000 models a year in Togliatti, as Russia seeks to cash in on growing demand for electric vehicles.

“The global crisis has exacerbated the changes in carmaking trends. Moving away from the so-called sophisticated car to a simple and ecological car. The one that can be assembled as easily as toy constructor. So our country has been given a chance to compete in automotive industry. That's because foreign carmakers will need time to adapt to this new trend. At this moment in time we believe in producing hybrid cars and not electric cars. By the end of this year we will present the car platform which will be used in three types of vehicles: a truck, a conventional city car, and sports vehicle for the younger buyers. The new city car will be a multimedia center on wheels. Two thirds of car parts will be produced in Russia which will boost many of our industries.”

And the head of carmaker Renault-Nissan warns automakers won’t fill demand for electric cars.

Most of the world’s top producers are rolling out electric models over the next few years, but Carlos Ghosn said they’ve underestimated how popular they’ll become.

“If I had to make a bet today, I would say we’re going to be very quickly in short capacity for electric cars. From everything I’m seeing, in 2011 or 2012 we’re going to have to rush to build capacity for both batteries and cars,” he said at the Geneva Motor show.

He added that Israel has ordered 100,000 electric Renault sedans, in its plan to become the world’s first integrated electric car network. France has also talked about adding 100,000 to its fleet.

“The numbers are deep, and I think we’re going to need more capacity. But we’re not going to invest more before we see the reaction of the market.”

Despite the unveiling of several models by different companies, Ghosn predicted none would come into fruition in the near future.

“In 2011, I’m going to be the only one on the market with a car, that’s for sure.”