like it or not

Explaining Russia's new retro-futuristic electric car

Meduza
11:30, 24 august 2018

Kalashnikov Media

On August 23, presenting at the “Army-2018” forum, the Kalashnikov Concern arms manufacturer unveiled its CV-1 electric automobile prototype, whose outward appearance is modeled on the IZh 2125 “Kombi” compact car. The vehicle’s design team thinks it can become a competitor to Tesla. Russian Internet users responded immediately with the meme “How do you like it, Elon Musk?” repeating a phrase used to mock Russia’s most absurd and unimpressive home creations. Meduza asked industrial designer and former Marussia Motors chief designer Yaroslav Rassadin to share his thoughts about the CV-1, and to explain why Kalashnikov decided to give its car of the future a look from the past.

Yaroslav Rassadin

industrial designer

I think it’s a news hook to generate more noise. This is probably the main goal behind the entire project. Because it’s impossible to imagine any other sensible reason to choose the carriage body of the IZh 2125 “Kombi.”

According to [Kalashnikov], this is a test bench, but it’s unclear what they’re testing, because one of the main parameters for an electric car is the drag coefficient. Testing driving performance in a carriage body from the 1970s is pointless. They’re probably testing something secret that we don’t know about.

In any case, I think it’s great. Retro-futurism is about the glorious tomorrow that never came. It’s the dreams of people of the past, who lacked real opportunities, about imaginary technologies. This isn’t an answer to Tesla; it’s an answer to the DeLorean from “Back to the Future.” And it’s no coincidence that that great film and the IZh are both from 1985.

This automobile is the Russian dream. It’s about taking something very old, like a bucket from a collective farm, and adding something cosmically amazing, all in an effort to overtake someone else.