Early this year, we learned that Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov had initiated a project, backed by the government, to mass produce the world's cheapest hybrid vehicle. It's an ambitious plan, one that calls for construction of a plant in the Russian city of Togliatti starting in January 2011. Prokhorov's investment, a mere €150 million ($208 million U.S. at the current exchange rate), will supposedly fund construction of the plant and the hybrid, but we remain skeptical.

Prokhorov now has a chance to prove us wrong. Next month, two prototypes are planned for release – a hatchback and a coupe crossover. Each vehicle will utilize a significant amount of Russian-made parts and feature room for four adults. Prokhorov believes that the production hybrid model will have a price tag of $10,000 U.S., which he assumes will drop to $7,000 to $8,000 once production volumes reach 100,000 cars per year. Furthermore, Prokhorov estimates that the vehicle will bring in a profit within four years. However, we're aware that a hybrid's complexities drive up costs and even established automakers can't profitably build a gas-electric that sells in the $10,000 range. Call us cynical, but we're not anxiously awaiting the arrival of a $7,000 hybrid. Sorry, Mikhail.

[Source: Voice of Russia]

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