Bravo Motors, one of Russia's most promising e-vehicle startups, has unveiled the latest design of an ultracompact electric car that the company hopes will take hold in Europe over the coming years.
The Bravo eGo is a two-seat, four-wheeled runabout that doubles as a sidewalk vehicle when the traffic snarls up and is powered by efficient lithium iron phosphate batteries.
"On the roads the Bravo eGo looks like any other compact automobile: It's solid, very safe, keeps out the rain and can achieve speeds of up to 90 km/h", the general director of Bravo Motors, Konstantin Artemyev, told sk.ru.
"When you hit traffic or you want to squeeze into a tight parking space, all you need do is press a button and in five seconds the Bravo eGo shrinks into an area of 1.5 sq. m, and the clearance rises to 40 cm, allowing the vehicle to get over high kerbs, go down steps or go into shopping malls",Artemyev said, adding that in sidewalk mode the car's top speed is limited to 10 km/h.
The eGo is capable of reaching speeds of 90 km/h on the roads and 10 km/h in sidewalk mode.
The Bravo eGo is a reincarnation of the company's e-trike, which won the prize for the most promising startup at Skolkovo's 2013 Startup Village event.
The restyled vehicle wasn't ready for the 2014 Startup Village in June but it went on display at this month's Innoprom industry trade fair in Ekaterinburg, where it was voted the spectators' favorite exhibit.
Bravo Motors, a Skolkovo resident company, is angling for a slice of a reported $31 billion global market in electric and hybrid cars, and is eyeing Europe's gridlocked capitals as its entry point.
Anyone who has slogged through one of Moscow's notorious traffic jams might suggest looking a little closer to home to begin with, but Artemyev says Europeans are more «psychologically ready» to sacrifice space for speed.
"Look at the Smart, for example. It's a lot rarer on our roads compared to Europe', he said, referring to the German-based microcar.
Bravo Motors has slapped a $20,000 price tag on the eGo, which has over a dozen pre-orders already, but insists the cost will drop below the $14,000 when production exceeds 100 units a month.
The list price of the road-only Renault Twizy, which Bravo has identified as a chief competitor and one of Europe's leading electric cars, converts to about $11,715.
A full four-hour charge gives the joystick-controlled eGo a range of up to 70 km, which is roughly industry standard.
Bravo Motors, based out of the southern city of Astrakhan, estimates sales of the eGo will begin next summer.
Should the targets be achieved, the group of eight people from Astrakhan, none of whose age exceeds 30, will have picked an appropriate company name: They raised the 6 million rubles ($170,000) for the e-trike and eGo prototypes themselves, and only this month found an investor to make market entry next year a realistic target, Artemyev said.
The company has put the total investment required for market entry at $2 million to $4 million.