It seems like you can't turn on the news this year without seeing the icy stare of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Whether he's opening the Olympics, sending troops to the Ukrainian border or just riding a horse while shirtless, he's seemingly everywhere. But behind the scenes, Putin has a big engineering project under development to create a new Russian-built and engineered official limousine for him and other top officials.
Russian media recently snapped a few pictures of the design concept. As you can see, the current version has the country's seal emblazoned all over the vehicle. The front end has the monolithic flatness that is associated with super high-end luxury cars from Bentley and Rolls-Royce. It's not exactly a beauty, but you probably wouldn't want to criticize the look to Putin's face. He doesn't seem to a guy who takes critique well. Prototypes of Putin's new limo are scheduled for testing later this year, and final production is planned for 2016.
Known as Project Cortege, the plan has several Russian automakers working together to design several vehicles, but the limo is the first priority. According to Yahoo Autos, the venture might even be getting some engineering input from Porsche. Putin has sunk an estimated $150 million to $400 million in government money into the project. Eventually, he wants it to spawn other vehicles – like a van and SUV.
This is actually the second attempt at a new Russian limousine. Initially, ZiL, which made vehicles for top officials in during the Communist era, was spearheading it, and its limo even started production. However, Putin was reportedly not happy with the design. Now, it's back to the drawing board.