When one thinks of Russia and cars, innovation does not immediately spring to mind. One company may be changing that, however. The delightfully named Yo-Auto – or as it is only slightly less delightfully known in Russian, Yo-Avto – is taking a road technologically less-traveled with it ё-mobile (ё-мобиле) vehicles.
Over the past several years, though, it's served up more in the way of excuses than cars, and was well on its way to earning the dreaded vaporware label, with the original production dates small dots in the rearview mirror. Now, however, it's trying to prove it's no Potemkin village, and just days ahead of its official debut, has revealed a pre-production unit. Carrying its progenitor, billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov, as he moved about the former Imperial capital of Russia for the St. Petersburg economic forum, it seems the first Yo-mobil will be an ё-crossover.
The company had introduced itself with a funky trio comprised of Yo-coupe, Yo-hatchback and Yo-truck, and later showed off a pretty far-out (Yo)-concept. The thing that unites the bunch is a unique drivetrain. Although it has a conventional internal combustion engine that's said to run on either gasoline or natural gas, it lacks a transmission. Instead, a generator takes the work created by the engine and feeds it into a supercapacitor, which then passes it along to two electric motors driving the rear wheels. The system employs regenerative braking and uses the advanced 70-kilogram (154-pound) energy storage system to start the fuel burner.
A generator takes the work created by the engine and feeds it into a supercapacitor, which passes it along to two electric motors driving the rear wheels.
It sounds slightly over-complicated and not especially efficient, but Yo-Auto says this "hybrid" configuration can return 3.51 l/100 km (67 mpg). Mr. Prokhorov's remarks after riding in the vehicle didn't touch on that particular metric, and only involved the driving experience: "This is the best car I've ever been in." This, of course, leads us to believe he is either extremely biased or his other car is a vintage Lada.
While we can't speak to the ride quality, we have seen pictures of the interior, and you can too, by perusing the gallery above. Feel free to tell us yo' Mama could do better in the comments section below.