Yo Autos Reveals Outlandish Plug-in Hybrid Concept at Frankfurt

By now you may have heard of Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov’s new car company, Yo Autos. The venture, whose sole funder is Prokhorov’s ONEXIM Group, first made headlines last year when it promised to deliver a gas-electric hybrid retailing for less than $13,000 by 2012. Though the Yo factory in Russia hasn’t yet been completed, the company has already shown off its first three models to the press, and claims to have taken more than 150,000 pre-orders to date.

At the Frankfurt Motor Show this week, Yo introduced a fourth vehicle into the mix that the carmaker says will act as design inspiration for future models. The “Yo-Concept” as it’s called—and you’ll soon see why the car will likely never be more than a concept—is an extended range plug-in hybrid. (Few details are available as to what might actually be going on underneath the hood.)

What really caught the eye of the automotive press is that the car features one of the most unique door configurations you’re likely to ever see. Rather than opening outward like most cars—or upward like the gull-wing doors of a DeLorean—the Yo-Concept’s doors slide up and back, protruding about a foot behind the bumper. It all looks very cool in the computer-rendered video the carmaker released to media, but to an unsuspecting pedestrian standing behind the vehicle when the process takes place, one can imagine it might be a bit painful as well.

Other futuristic features of the Yo-Concept include video cameras instead of side mirrors (which would help to reduce drag,) and a teardrop-shaped windshield that extends to the roof of the vehicle before finally terminating above the rear seats. While its unknown how many (if any) of these style points will ever make it to a production vehicle, the car displayed at Frankfurt did help generate further publicity for Yo.

At this point though, press attention isn’t the main obstacle facing the carmaker: it’s proving that the cars Yo has displayed and talked about extensively over the last year can actually be built at the promised price point—and that once built, they will actually work. The company has already backtracked on some of its big talk, now saying that its first vehicles won’t be gas-electric or come in under the $13,000 mark as promised, but will rather be fossil fuel-powered and start at $14,500. One can imagine that including the promised hybrid battery system will drive the price of the vehicles up considerably further.

Before test-driving the car in Russia earlier this year, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin jokingly asked one question that’s likely been on the minds of many since the Yo-Mobile was first announced last October. Turning to Prokhorov with a wry smile, Putin quipped “I hope it will not fall into pieces. Will it?”


  • MrEnergyCzar

    If you don’t have a plug-in coming out now, you’re out of the competitive car market…… In the long term, I won’t be surprised that Russia becomes a major car manufacturer since they have the most remaining oil and gas in the world to actually grow their economy…

    MrEnergyCzar

  • Max Reid

    Nice looking concept, we can pay $14,500 for this vehicle. Add another $6,000 for a plugin, still it will sell well at $20,500, since this will be a big head-turner.

  • pat

    from the look of it, I guess it does not have side windows!
    So Air-con will be a std feature?

  • Mr. Fusion

    Yo yo yo…very cool doors. Protruding a foot behind the vehicle is less than 3-4 feet out the side when opening conventionally. The side glass must be designed to roll down on opening.

    Where does the rain snow and ice go?
    How many cycles will those doors last before repairs are needed?
    No battery, no entry.
    Motors and linkage to operate them add weight.
    Giant blind spot.
    No visibility out for rear passengers.

    Keep it simple.

    That is one enormous piece of front glass. It would be interesting to see it produced. Will there be some sort of sun screen?

    It doubt it will make it to market, but I like the boundaries of design being pushed. Very cool body and wheels.

  • James Davis

    I don’t think we should allow the Russians design cars for anyone but themselves. I can just see those doors falling down and cutting a child into or cutting your leg off as you try to get out. That isn’t a bad idea if it is the KGB who will be driving.

  • Old Man Crowder

    This is just a prototype, not production. A lot can happen between those two development stages.

    And James… They’re sliding doors, not guillotines. Minivans have had them for quite some time!

    But still… Remember the Yugo!

  • Capt. Concernicus

    I can only think of what the actor said that played the Russian cosmonaut in Armeggedon, “This is how you fix Russian space station.” then he proceeds to bash the space station with a huge wrench. Replace Russian space station with this car. I think the concept is still the same. lol!

    Sorry, but I’m not buying any car from a Russian start up automaker. You’d have to be out of your mind. I’d rather buy a Chrysler. Haha…

    Putin quipped “I hope it will not fall into pieces. Will it?”—I don’t think Putin was really kidding.

  • Gary

    Neatest auto I’ve seen in years. If Prokhorov is anything like Steve Jobs, look out.

  • Anonymous

    Everything is clear, you are judging on Russia for Hollywood blockbusters? Red Square vodka, bears, a wrench on the space station? What about the USSR in space was first?
    About the Americans say they are narrow-minded people. Make sure that your case is very fair opinion. ))
    I understand that the Russian car industry does not yet have success, and I prefer German cars. But the American “galoshes” – the last thing that I choose from the entire global automotive industry. Well, the Chinese will be the last, and before them – your Chrysler. )))
    Всё ясно, вы судите о России по голливудским блокбастерам? Красная площадь, водка, медведи, гаечный ключ на космической станции? А как же тогда СССР в космосе первым оказался?
    Про американцев говорят, что они ограниченные люди. Убедилась, что в вашем случае это совершенно справедливое мнение. ))
    Я понимаю, что российский автопром пока не имеет успехов, и предпочитаю немецкие автомобили. Но американские “калоши” – это последнее, что я выберу из всего мирового автопрома. Ну ладно, китайские будут последними, а перед ними – ваш Крайслер. )))

  • fikus

    Everything is clear, you are judging on Russia for Hollywood blockbusters? Red Square vodka, bears, a wrench on the space station? What about the USSR in space was first?
    About the Americans say they are narrow-minded people. Make sure that your case is very fair opinion. ))
    I understand that the Russian car industry does not yet have success, and I prefer German cars. But the American “galoshes” – the last thing that I choose from the entire global automotive industry. Well, the Chinese will be the last, and before them – your Chrysler. )))