Russia starts sales of 'Putin limousine', eyes Chinese market

By By Olesya Astakhova and Anna Rzhevkina Time of article published Aug 23, 2019

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Moscow - Russia's bigwigs can now ride in style just like Putin, following the inauguration of a showroom for the Aurus brand on Friday, and soon the luxury limo will be making its mark around the world.

The Aurus Senat is first post-Soviet luxury limousine under the Aurus brand - essentially it's the same car used by President Vladimir Putin at his inauguration last year.

Russia has been trying to reduce its dependence on imported goods and technology, a drive that gathered speed after Moscow was hit by Western sanctions in 2014.

Built as part of an ambitious programme called the Kortezh project by the Russian central automotive institute and the Sollers company, it has a hybrid powertrain developed in collaboration with Porsche that combines a 440kW V8 with a 30kW electric motor, driving all four wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission - and if that’s not enough for you, there’s a 6.6-litre V12 version in development that should be good for more than 600kW.

The Russian-built limousine is intended to become the heir to the ZIL sedans that for decades transported Soviet leaders.

Priced at 18 million roubles (R4.1 million) the Aurus, in its basic configuration, will also target customers in North Africa and the Middle East, as well as European and Chinese buyers.

"We expect a similar showroom will appear in China in 2020-2021," Industry and Trade Minister Denis Manturov said during the opening ceremony in Moscow.

The Russian state has invested over 12.4 billion roubles in the Aurus limousine project since 2013.

The vehicles are produced by a Russian research institute known by the acronym NAMI in partnership with Russian carmaker Sollers.

Friday's ceremony featured the Aurus Senat sedan.

"The minivan and the SUV Komendant are at the testing stage. I hope to see the latter at the (Moscow International) Automobile Salon in 2020," Manturov said.

A fully electric version of the Aurus is expected to be ready by 2024-2025. There will also be an extended sedan and a shortened limousine.

Aurus CEO Adil Shirinov said potential customers were not only government officials but also businessmen: "We believe the audience will be quite wide."

Aurus is taking orders, but no retail sales are planned this year, he added. 


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