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Yo-Mobil Hybrid rights given to the Russian Government
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov Ditches Yo-Mobile Hybrid Car Idea
By Anatoly Medetsky Apr. 07 2014
Billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov has pulled out of a plan to build a hybrid car, whose test model he showed off to President Vladimir Putin, as the weakening of the ruble has pushed up costs.
Branded the Yo-Mobile, the gas-electric car would have been the first hybrid vehicle developed in Russia — and a stellar example of innovation. It has collected more than 210,000 pre-orders, but its production has repeatedly been delayed.
The rising cost of potential assembly would have undercut demand for the car, given the ongoing contraction of the automobile market, a statement from Prokhorov's investment company, Onexim, said Monday. Last year, Russia's car market shrank by 5 percent. Even so, the billionaire, who is also known for his ownership of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team and has a hefty stake in fertilizer producer Uralkali, refused to call the Yo-Mobile project a fiasco.
"We did achieve a result — and it is a 100 percent success," his spokeswoman Tatyana Kosobokova said by phone. "Unique technology has been developed, and it is staying in Russia."
Onexim sold the technology, which it developed for the project, to the state-owned Central Automotive Research Institute for a token price of 1 euro ($1.4) in a deal signed last week.
The institute could use the information for "a number of innovative projects," said its spokesman Andrei Garmai, without elaborating.
A number of Asian and Western companies have hankered after the technology developed for the Yo-Mobile, but have been rebuffed by Onexim, Kosobokova said.
Kosobokova did not say how much Onexim spent on the car's development and the construction of a plant in St. Petersburg, which was set for completion later this year. But she said the company could have recouped the investment if it had sold its engineering solutions for the car to one of the suitors.
Named so after the Russian letter Yo, which resembles a latin e with an umlaut, the vehicle once looked like it had the blessing of one of the world's most powerful motorists. In April 2011, then-Prime Minister Putin took a ride in one of the first prototypes of the Yo-Mobile, after asking Prokhorov if it was not likely to fall apart. Putin drove the car from his Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow to then-President Dmitry Medvedev's official countryside home in Gorky-9 to attend a Security Council meeting.
The 2.03-meter-tall Prokhorov, who usually uses a more spacious Mercedes to get around, followed in another Yo-Mobile.
Prokhorov squeezed himself into a Yo-Mobile prototype again at last year's St. Petersburg's International Economic Forum in an apparent effort to send the message that the car project was moving forward, despite several delays.
Prokhorov said later that year that Yo-Avto, a joint venture controlled by Onexim, would begin mass production in 2015.
But in February, the chief of the department for industrial policy at St. Petersburg's City Hall, Maxim Meiskin, said the project was on hold indefinitely.
First devised in 2010, the car was initially to start rolling off the assembly line in 2012, but repeatedly ran into engineering and component supply hurdles. Yarovit Motors, a little-known truck maker, was Onexim's partner in the project.
The car was to sell for no more than 450,000 rubles ($12,500), but Onexim said Monday the price would "inevitably" rise because the dwindling value of the ruble was driving up the cost of required investment — a likely reference to the heavy reliance on foreign developers of components for the car.
Competition in the low-cost segment is on the rise. Renault-Nissan Alliance president Carlos Ghosn last week presented the Datsun for the Russian market, a sedan aimed at people who cannot afford to spend more than 400,000 rubles on a car.
Prokhorov is leaving behind the Yo-Mobile idea, but he is intent on keeping one promise he made when he tried, about two years ago, to dispel doubts that his plan would work. He gave his word at the time that ultranationalist political leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky, one of the skeptics, would once be able to drive a Yo-Mobile.
The car is now undergoing testing for certificates, and will be ready to be handed over to him in the fall, Kosobokova said.
A Zhirinovsky spokesman, Yury Ryzhov, said, "We will be waiting."
[© 2014 The Moscow Times]
Mikhael Prokhorov Hands Over the Keys to His Yo-Mobil Hybrid Vehicles to the Russian Government
Apr 8th, 2014 | By Albert Hecht
Prokhorov, billionaire industrialist and owner of the ONEXIM group has done a deal with the state-owned NAMI institute to take the technology and development rights for the cards of his hands for the token sum of just a single Euro.
Michael Prokhorov did not become one of the world’s wealthiest tycoons by letting his heart rule his head. That may well explain the reason why the ONEXIM group, which he warns, has just sold off the technology and development rights for the Yo-mobil range of hybrid powered vehicles for just a single Euro.
The “lucky” recipients of Prokhorov’s generosity are the Russian state owned and operated NAMI institute who will not only gain access to the more than 200,000 advance orders that ONEXIM have booked for the choice of three vehicles which have been under development since 2010. However in the face of having to finance development costs which could reach as high as €500 million before a single vehicle rolls off the production line, ONEXIM have ultimately decided that the auto industry is not for them .
According to a recent press release issued by the company, they have already invested in excess of €100 million in development costs, which they are prepared to write off.
The press statement also went on to add that the Yo-mobil range of hybrid powered vehicles will be fitted with one of the world’s best electric transmissions, backed up by the latest development in super condensers, while the car bodies and chassis have been designed to take advantage of all the latest developments in lightweight but exceptionally durable materials.
According to Andrey Ginzburg CEO of Yo-mobil all of the technological developments which our team managed to integrate into the vehicles, which were presented in the final prototypes that were released last in the summer of last year were very well received by industry experts.
“Since the prototype launch Yo-mobil have received a d a number of offers from foreign companies to buy the project and its separate development, however would prefer to pass the development information gathered to NAMI, with whom we have had a long-term working relationship and we are convinced that the development will receive broader applications in further development for both domestic automobiles, and cargo and public transport if it remains in the hands. ” Ginzburg summed up.
Yo-mobil’s “environmentally-friendly” hybrid car was planned to be powered by an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, which would be be fuelled by either gasoline or gas. Initial plans were to launch the range of vehicles at the exceptional opening competitive opening price of around $10,000, which, with the low fuel consumption figures promise would have made for a serious player in the hy-brid vehicle sector in Europe, as the advance orders taken further indicate.
Prokhorov initially funded the development of three Yo-mobil prototypes a hatchback, a small commercial vehicle and a cross-coupe. Initial plans were that production of the vehicles would get underway sometime in 2012, which was then put off till 2015. Early this year Yo-Mobil announced that production had been postponed indefinitely.
Mikhail Prokhorov graduated from the Moscow Finance Institute in 1989, beginning his professional career in a management position at the International Bank for Economic Cooperation, later moving to the MFK bank when he served as head of the bank’s Management Board.
Prokhorov left MFT to form the Onexim Bank with college friends and Alexander Khloponin and Vladimir Potanin
In 1992, at the age of 27, Prokhorov went into partnership with Potanin to form Interros, through which they acquired of Norilsk Nickel, which went on to become one of Russia’s largest nickel and palladium mining and smelting companies.
Mikhail Prokhorov is estimated to be 32nd richest person on earth as well as a one of its most “eligible bachelors”, living a true jet setting lifestyle with homes in United States and Russia as well as his own private island in the Seychelles, which he can get to from one of his two corporate jets or either of his two luxury yachts.
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