The Moscow billionaire made his fortune, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, by getting into both banking and metals. He’s since expanded his horizons, starting ventures in insurance, nanotech and professional sports, among other things. Now the 6-foot-eight Prokhorov is ready to enter the automotive world.
Ranked the second-richest man in Russia, and 39th worldwide, with a fortune estimated at more than $18 billion, Prokhorov has started up a new company to produce what he calls “socially important products” – in particular, a new line of plug-in hybrids to be collectively known as the “Yo” brand.
At a Moscow preview, Prokhorov unveiled three prototypes, a sporty coupe, a sedan and a small truck. They’re expected to come in at about $10,000 each, or barely a quarter of what General Motors is charging – before federal tax credits – for its own Chevrolet Volt plug-in.
The new company, the entrepreneur said, hopes to “overcome existing stereotypes . . . that Russia cannot make normal cars.” Prokhorov underscored that by pointing out that his country was the first to put a man into space.
Though specific details of the Yo car technology weren’t released, Prokhorov says he intends to invest about $150 million of his own money into the project. That, incidentally, matches the money he put up to buy the New Jersey Nets, the NBA basketball team he owns.