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Kalashnikov Unveils a Car of the Future. Russians See a 1970s Relic.

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MOSCOW — What do you get when a staid Russian weapons manufacturer designs a “concept” electric car and a futuristic robot? Apparently, you get a car based on a Soviet-era design and an ungainly monster more than 13 feet tall that many people doubt is capable of moving.

The Kalashnikov Concern of rifle fame introduced the two potential products to a round of laughs and jeers in Moscow this week, touting them as proof that Russia is capable of producing innovative goods for the global economy.

The electric car will compete with the market leader, Tesla, boasted a company spokeswoman, while the robot prototype was supposedly designed to undertake both combat and engineering tasks.

According to a spokesperson for the company, which was privatized last year, the car can accelerate from zero to more than 60 miles per hour in six seconds, and its battery gives it a range of more than 200 miles, said a spokesperson for the company.

“We are talking about competing with Tesla precisely because it’s currently a successful vehicle project,” the spokesperson told the RBC news website. “We expect to at least keep up with it.”

The Russian internet was having none of it. Memes mocking the concept car and questions about whether the robot was actually mobile proliferated across social media.

To test a rocket last February, the founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, famously launched his roadster into space. So observers began creating pictures of the clunky concept car showing it, too, in orbit.

If anything it came across more like a Los Angeles lowrider than the wave of the future. One creative observer imagined how the interior of a futuristic car might be decorated with Russian Orthodox icons, a favorite of many local drivers.

Follow Neil MacFarquhar on Twitter: @NeilMacFarquhar.

Lincoln Pigman contributed reporting.



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