Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has tasked the country's leading automotive institute with designing a luxury car for President Vladimir Putin.
The car would also be used for other top officials, and its foundation would be used to build regular cars for ordinary people both in Russia and abroad, according to a Medvedev decree issued Monday.
The state-run research center, the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Automotive Engine Institute, was awarded the contract without a tender, and an agreement providing the parameters of the project will be signed between the government and the institute shortly, Vedomosti reported.
Rakhmanov expressed confidence that the vehicle could become quite competitive if the project was properly organized and the design and manufacturing elements were correctly implemented.
But Oleg Datskiv, the director of Auto-Dealer.ru, warned that the luxury car would face stiff competition from aggressive newcomers like Hyundai and Kia. Capital analyst Vladimir Bespalov agreed, saying the government would be wise to limit its production to cars for Putin.
This leaked picture is said to show the first prototype of the new Putin car: