Porsche is best known for building very well-regarded sports cars and better-selling utility vehicles. Come to the company with a big enough bag of cash, though, and the Porsche Engineering division can create just about anything. The group's past projects include working with Harley-Davidson, Mercedes-Benz and corporate cousin Audi, but if rumors prove true, then its latest partner might be the last one you'd expect.
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.
A few years ago Russian president Dmitri Medvedev decided he wanted officials to be chauffeured in Russian limousines, not the German executive sedans everyone had become accustomed to (such as the Mercedes-Benz pictured above). Naturally, that meant turning to Russia's own ZiL to create a litter worthy of a plutocrat and glorious Russian history. The plan had two big problems, the first being that ZiL stopped making limos in 1991 and was only producing trucks and armored military vehicles.
Back in January, Russia's domestically-built ë-mobile (that's pronounced yo-mobile, yo) – the natural gas hybrid minicar dreamed up by billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov – was wheeled out for its public unveiling in Moscow. Last Friday, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin buckled in behind the wheel of the yo-mobile and set out on a three-mile journey to visit President Dmitry Medvedev.
Russian premier Vladimir Putin (right) has big plans to put his country on the map of world-class sporting events. In 2014, the Black Sea resort town of Sochi will play host to the Winter Olympics. In 2018, Putin hopes to be hosting the World Cup. But not before the country secures its own Formula One grand prix.
During the first quarter of 2010, Russian automaker Avtovaz lost 2.6 billion rubles ($85M U.S.). In the second quarter it made almost a third of that back when it posted a net profit of one billion rubles ($32.7M U.S). The spike came courtesy of Russia's cash-for-clunkers program, which more than doubled the firm's sales over Q1 numbers to 149,100 cars.
Renault has found a way to appease Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that didn't involve writing a check for $850 million. The French company took a 25% stake in Russian carmaker Avtovaz, and when Avtovaz started having a hard time of it earlier this year Renault looked content to see how things turned out. Putin wasn't: he told Carlos Ghosn to inject cash into Avtovaz, or Putin would dilute Renault's stake with a share sale.
It seemed like a good idea at the time, but with hindsight being 20-20, how many failed ventures can be summed up by that same excuse? Just last year, Russia was looking to foreign investors as one of the most promising emerging markets in the world. Renault got locked into a bidding war with Fiat and General Motors for a large stake in Autovaz, Russia's largest automaker, known to consumers for producing Lada.
Here's one way to clear traffic jams – become the Russian President. The above picture shows you how a typical Moscow street looks at pretty much any time of day. It's bumper-to-bumper traffic as far as the eye can see. But to paraphrase Mel Brooks in History of the World, Part I, "It's good to be the Pres." When President Putin has to get somewhere in a hurry, they make sure he can arrive in a timely fashion. The following photo shows how the same streets look when his Mercedes Limo and G