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R1 ‘BatTram’ project cancelled

It’s easy to see why the R1 concept garnered worldwide attention, but it will never go into production. Image: UVZ/OKB Atom

The R1 (Russia One) low-floor tram prototype will never go into series production, it has been confirmed by Uraltransmash’s new owners, due to a lack of orders and complexities associated with the radical design.

A three-section prototype was revealed at the Innoprom exhibition in Yekaterinburg in 2014, dubbed by many as ‘an iPhone on rails’ or the ‘BatTram’. With composite construction, innovative interior layouts and advanced suspension and door systems, the concept also featured an inversely-raked driver’s cab that increased forward visibility by reducing glare and giving a 30% wider forward view, according to designer OKB Atom.

No orders materialised in the subsequent three years, despite reported interest from both Yekaterinburg and Casablanca, and Uraltransmash’s parent company Uralvagonzavod found itself in difficulties. It was taken over by state-owned defence and technology conglomerate Rostec following a presidential decree on 27 December 2016.

Rostec Director of Special Projects Vassili Brovko said: “The R1 is very beautiful… but it has not managed to find a place in the market, and it never will.

“First, there is no chassis, then the tram is not easy to repair. If someone broke something, it would be hard to figure out where to order a spare part and how long it would take to get it.”

Rostec is reportedly still working with state-owned Vnesheconombank to remedy UVZ’s financial issues.