For decades, gun enthusiasts around the world have been engaged in an endless debate over which is the better weapon — the iconic Russian-made AK-47 or the American-made AR-15.
Now the legendary Russian gunmaker has unveiled a new product that it hopes will compete with a popular American counterpart. Kalashnikov’s latest creation is a Columbia blue, retro-looking electric car known as the CV-1.
The competition: American electric-car maker Tesla, the Silicon Valley darling headed by Elon Musk that is worth more than $50 billion and remains the world’s most famous electric-car maker.
Asked by the Russian news website RBC why the company was fixated on Tesla specifically, Kalashnikov spokeswoman Sofia Ivanova said the intrepid company is the industry standard.
"We are talking about competing precisely with Tesla, because at present it is a successful project in the field of electric vehicles," she said. "We expect to at least keep up with it."
Although the company is known for its iconic weaponry, Kalashnikov has branched into other products, such as iPhone covers, umbrellas and a new 13-foot combat robot named “Little Igor,” whose design appears to have been plucked from the Star Wars movie franchise. The company is also reportedly developing a hybrid buggy and an electric motorcycle.
Inspired by a Soviet hatchback developed in the 1970s called “Izh-Kombi,” the contemporary CV-1 made its debut at a Russian arms show in Moscow called Army-2018. The CV-1′s body type looks nothing like a Tesla, whose sleek and simple design is often compared to an iPhone on wheels.
The boxy Russian vehicle has sharp lines, a steep windshield and — somewhat curiously — no side mirrors. Tesla models come standard with adjustable side mirrors.
The two cars also perform very differently.
In a statement published online, Kalashnikov referred to the CV-1 as an “electric supercar” and noted that it offers a 90 kilowatt battery pack and can travel 220 miles on a single charge. Tesla’s Model S, by comparison, has a 335-mile range.
The CV-1 can break 60 mph in just over six seconds, whereas the Model S can reach similar speeds in about 2.5 seconds.
Video footage released by Kalashnikov did not include images of the CV-1′s interior.
Observers said they are skeptical that the Russian company is ready to compete, and some labeled the vehicle’s unveiling a PR stunt.
Kalashnikov did not release information about the CV-1′s potential price tag.
“Releasing a concept is a far cry from being able to offer a viable product and producing it successfully,” Christian Stadler, a professor of strategic management at Warwick Business School in England, told CNN Money. “I don’t think the company has the technology or deep pockets it takes to make this a success.”