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by Tim Beissmann

Fledgling Russian hybrid vehicle manufacturer Ë-Auto will announce itself on the world stage this month with an innovative new concept at the 2011 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Known simply as the Ë-Concept, the highlight is without doubt the vehicle’s unique doors.

As the video shows, the windows drop down and the doors slide backwards to fold over each other across the boot, resembling a bird’s wings.

It’s almost hypnotising watching the curved doors roll into position, and shows how a usually mundane feature can completely revolutionise a design (much like the Ford Evos Concept revealed yesterday).

It looks rather practical too, providing reasonable access to the rear seats, although we’re not convinced about the rear visibility, as the Ë-Concept has one of the largest C-pillar blind spots in history.

Ë-Auto’s executives say the Ë-Concept will remain just that, a concept, but insist it has been created to preview the “distinctive features of future models of the Ë-Auto”.

Ë-Auto will begin production of its first three vehicles in the second half of 2012, including a coupe-style crossover, a hatchback and a van.

Initially, they will be powered by conventional internal combustion engines, although future vehicles will use a swing-piston engine that can run on either petrol or natural gas. The engine will operate most of the time to either power two electric motors directly or to fill a bank of capacitors that can hold a small charge.

More than 151,000 pre-orders have been placed so far for the trio, which will be priced between 350,000 and 400,000 roubles ($11,300 and $13,000).




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