The gunmaker which created the iconic AK-47 machine gun touts its new car as the Russian response to Tesla.

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In the early 1930s, a 14-year-old child in Russia hitchhiked almost 1,000 km to reach the town of Kurya, where he would get a job at a tractor station. He would go on to develop a passion for tinkering, mechanics, and weaponry. The 17th of 19th children, he would go on to develop several iconic weapon designs, including the AK-47, which would go on to sell over 100 million firearms and become, by far, the most mass-produced weapon in history.

The man’s name was Mikhail Kalashnikov.

Today, the Kalashnikov Concern has little in common with Mikhail and his legacy, apart from borrowing his name and selling his designs — and, in fact, the company might be looking to change its own legacy and dabble in a new field: electric cars.

At a new military fair, the company revealed a vehicle prototype: the CV-1, a retro-futuristic car inspired by a Soviet hatchback from the 1970s. The CV-1 packs a 90 kilowatt-hour battery and a modern electric engine. According to Kalashnikov, the car has a range of 217 miles (or 350 km) — a respectable figure, though it hasn’t yet been demonstrated.

The company touted its prototype as the Russian response to Tesla, although it wasn’t able to point towards any specifics where it fares better than the American company.

“The car is competing with Tesla because it’s currently a successful electric vehicle project,” says Kalashnikov representative Sofia Ivanova. “We expect to at least keep up with it.”

Kalashnikov has long been trying to expand its brand, launching several products, from a line of clothes to umbrellas, but few have truly been successful. Coming up with a viable prototype is noteworthy, but finding the funding and edging on the market is a whole different ball game. Also, it’s not exactly clear which market Kalashnikov wants to tap into.

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A country with vast hydrocarbon resources and little to no concern for the environment, Russia is an unlikely place to start an electric car venture. Add in a relatively low income per capita and no legislation to favor electric cars, and you end up with what seems to be a recipe for disaster. So presumably, Kalashnikov would like to sell cars in different countries — but the nostalgia aspect of the car is unlikely to appeal to many people in the West.

Will the project gain any traction, or will it tank? Kalashnikov hasn’t released any specific information about the production or sales of the car so, for now, only time will tell.

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