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Yo! Hybrid Car From Russia

2012-hybrid-car-russian-yo.jpgNot typically known for its automotive industry, Russia may jump to the head of the field with a new home-grown, low-cost gas-electric hybrid car.

Driving the car’s development is Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov. U.S. readers might know Prokhorov as the new owner of the NBA basketball team, the New Jersey Nets. His idea is to create a mass-market hybrid that would cost roughly $10,000. To accomplish this, Prokhorov plans to invest $150 million Euros (about $200 million) to bring the car to market.

The car is called the ë-mobile, but is dubbed the “Yo.” Yo is the English pronunciation of the car’s name, which includes “a Cyrillic letter with no English equivalent,” according to industry sources. It will use two electric motors and a small engine that can burn either gasoline or natural gas. The small engine will run continuously. According to the New York Times, “instead of charging a battery, as in the hybrid Toyota Prius, the generator in the Yo either powers the motors directly or fills a bank of capacitors that can hold only a small charge.”

This approach has been occasionally used in city buses, but not in hybrid cars. According to the Yo’s designers, this offers an advantage in that the small engine operates at its most efficient rate all of the time. At the same time, electricity transfer to and from the capacitors kicks in to handle stop and go driving.

The team behind the car claim it will get about 67 miles per gallon. That’s better than the fuel economy of many other electric cars like the Toyota Prius. The greater mileage per gallon is likely due to the anticipated lighter weight of the Yo. It is expected to weigh less than 1,500 lbs. However, the actual fuel economy will only be known once a working model is completed.

That may be sooner than many think. Wired noted the speed at which the car is being developed.
After only about 180 days of planning, a prototype of the car was unveiled in December. The Yo’s designers claim that it will have a top speed of 74 mph. Cost estimates for the car have risen a bit above Prokhorov’s initial estimate. The current thinking is that the price will be somewhere in the $12,000 to $14,000 range. That would still make the Yo “one of the world’s cheapest hybrids,” according to the industry news site Autoblog.

The Yo has been well received in Russia. Prokhorov’s investment group has partnered with Russian truck maker Yarovit, according to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. Additionally, the project has the blessing of the Russian government. The Moscow News reported that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has backed a proposal to build a pilot factory with a capacity of 10,000 vehicles in Togliatti.

  • View a Wall Street Journal slide show of the Yo prototype here.
  • See the gas electric Yo embedded news video about the Yo here.
By Jeff Carey

There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. Yo is the English transliteration of the Cyrillic letter Ё (ё, lowercase), which is pronounced “Yoh”, and not “yo” (as in yo-yo).

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