Russian multi-billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov plans to launch mass production of inexpensive electric cars in Russia and has already received the backing of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, a business daily reported on Wednesday.
Kommersant said that Prokhorov, ranked by Russia's Finans magazine as the country's richest man with an estimated wealth of $14.1 billion in 2008, plans to produce a Golf-class sedan with a target price of about 8,800 euros ($12,500) in partnership with the St. Petersburg-based truck maker Yarovit.
The project of electric car production will be the first project of this kind in Russia, which is seeking to rid its dependence on raw material exports and switch to a knowledge-based, innovative economy.
Prokhorov, whose business interests range from gold to a U.S. basketball club, sold some of his most attractive assets just before the global economic crisis struck and is now willing to invest cash in innovation projects.
Analysts say, however, that the production of new electric cars in Russia may yield profits if the car output reaches several tens of thousands vehicles. Also, the project may experience difficulties with the supply of quality components.
Moreover, the price of $12,500 seems to be too high as foreign auto giants have already announced plans to produce similar cars priced $10,000, the paper said.
MOSCOW, January 20 (RIA Novosti)