Ё-mobile hybrid to get sporty makeover

Russia's first homegrown hybrid car is about to embark on a sporting career. The ё-mobile will take part in the Russian rally-raid championship in 2012, with plans to take in the annual Dakar rally in the future.

The ё-mobile maker e-AUTO will partner with the Latvian SIA eO team in developing the car for rallying. Taking part in motor sports will do lots to promote the hybrid, and prove it to potential customers.

The Russian hybird is designed to run on petrol and natural gas, as well as electric power. Maker ё-AUTO is promising a quality vehicle costing less than $15,000, but experts say the company is facing challenges to keep it that cheap.

The project has also won support from the gas monopoly Gazprom, with boss Aleksey Miller promising to“encourage the promotion of the project in the market.”

“We see this car as a consumer of gas engine fuel. That’s the additional demand from the Russian market,” Miller said.

The ё--mobile was launched during the summer, and already the manufacturers say they have 150,000 orders on the books. Mass production is due to start in 2012, with the aim of producing 45.000 vehicles a year.

With Russia´s WTO accession to be completed in summer 2012, it’s becoming increasingly important for local car makers to become more competitive.

Experts, however, are skeptical about the ё-mobils, with some doubting they will work and others claiming the Company’s designs are not practical, which willeventually push prices up.