Called ‘Project Cortege’, for now, the primary purpose of the new limos - beyond ferrying Putin and his dignitaries around - is to serve as a Russian status symbol to the rest of the world.
The first road-going example is not expected to roll off the production line until 2016, but a mock-up model was on display last week, and a prototype is expected to begin testing later this year.
A number of Russian carmakers are believed to be involved in the project, and reports out of Europe suggest Porsche is also contributing its engineering expertise.
Never one to do things half-heartedly, Putin has reportedly committed between AU$160 and AU$427 million to the project, and has rejected early designs for being too ‘boxy’.
Currently, Putin’s fleet of limos consists of stretched Mercedes-Benz S-Class variants.
No further details are available at this stage, and no doubt items such as power output and in-built features to protect the president will be classified as ‘confidential’.
Russia’s ‘mainstream’ motoring industry is starting to gain from the booming Chinese and Indian markets, with several new models - including the Datsun On-Do and the Peugeot 408 - built with Russian customers in mind.
Images via rg.ru
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