Meet the Zetta CM1: a Small, Cheap, Russian Electric Car

Everyone’s on the hunt for bargain electric cars, but how deep down the EV penny-pinching rabbit hole are you willing to go? Zetta (or Zero Emission Terra Transport Asset) is creating Russia’s first mass-produced electric car, called the CM1 (City Module 1), and it’s dirt cheap. Granted, unless you live over there, you won’t be able to buy this electric car. But would you even want to?

Zetta CM1 Electric Car
Zetta CM1 Electric Car | Zetta

The Zetta CM1 is Russia’s first mass produced electric car

Set to release before 2022, the Zetta CM1 is being built at the Togliatti plant in Samara. If you don’t know where that is, or why that’s important, don’t worry, I didn’t either. The Togliatti plant is one of the largest in the world, producing such cars as the Lada Granta and Renault Logan today. But more so, the Samara region is home to AvtoVAZ, Russia’s largest car manufacturer.

Zetta, while not owned by AvtoVAZ, aims to produce and sell 10,000 CM1s per year, accounting for Russia’s limited electric car network. Though experts hope that number will rise as EVs become more mainstream. And while this isn’t Russia’s first electric car, it is the first serious attempt at one.

And we do mean serious, as the Zetta isn’t actually a terrible vehicle. At least not on paper.

The specs and speeds of the Zetta CM1

Zetta CM1 Electric Car
Zetta CM1 Electric Car | Zetta

For starters, this little EV is all-wheel drive. With one 27 horsepower motor per wheel, the Zetta is a 108 horsepower screamer. And that surge of strength can get the CM1 up to a top speed of 74 miles per hour. Okay, that’s not the fastest, but it can actually handle highway speeds. An impressive feat for such a tiny EV.

And we do mean tiny, as the Zetta is only about a foot longer than a Smart car. But that small size and sizable power add up to an impressive 124-mile range. To put that into perspective, a base model 2022 Nissan leaf gets around 149 miles per charge. But what sets the CM1 apart from more mainstream EVs is the price.

Set at 550,000 rubles, that equates to about $7,500 here in the states. That’s a cheaper EV than the Kandi K27, which is $10,000 after the $7,500 tax credit. So the Zetta is an honest attempt at a cheap electric car in Russia. But will people buy it?

The Russian population has very little interest in electric cars

Zetta CM1 Electric Car
Zetta CM1 Electric Car | Zetta

According to Reuters, 45 million cars are buzzing around Russia’s roads. But only 11,000 of them are electric. To do a little comparing, let’s take the United States, which is home to 276 million cars. Of that large chunk, 1.8 million cars are electric. So we have more EVs by far, but what about the percentage of EVs per gas car?

The 11,000 electric cars in Russia make up just .0002% of the cars on the road. Whereas in the states, EVs make up .006% of all cars registered. Not only does this put into perspective how small Russia’s EV market is, it puts into perspective how much further we need to go if we want to see an all-electric future.

There are still plenty of folks who don’t think electric cars are worth it, both in the US and abroad. But cheap EVs like the Zetta CM1 may invigorate consumers to make the switch, especially since the cost of ownership drastically goes down with an EV.

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