Friday, October 19, 2018

Eat your heart out, Tesla—check out this cool electric car that a Nissan predecessor company built over 70 years ago.

1947 Tama electric car.
Photo: Nissan Official Media Newsroom.
OK. So it’s not quite as sleek and sexy as a Tesla Roadster.

But this vintage 1947 Tama electric vehicle built by Tokyo Electro Automobile Co., Ltd., has a funky charm of its own. And for Japanese car enthusiasts, it might be pretty cool to think that a company that is part of Nissan’s history was thinking this early about the benefits of electrification, in response to an energy crisis of its time.

It all started when, in the years just after the end of World War II, around 200 Tachikawa Aircraft employees joined Tokyo Electro Automobile Co. There was an urgency to build a viable electric car, due to an extreme shortage of gasoline at the time. In 1947, the company succeeded in creating a prototype 2-seater truck (500-kg load capacity) with a 4.5-horsepower motor and a new body design. It was named “Tama” after the area where the company was based.

Its top speed was 21 mph. Next, the company created its first passenger car. With two doors and seating for four, it boasted a top speed of 22 mph and a cruising range of 40 miles on a single charge—heck, that rivals the all-electric range of some of today’s plug-in hybrids.

The Tama came in passenger car and truck models, and both were available in gasoline and electric versions. In 1948, Tama Junior, a compact passenger car, was born. Then, in 1949, came the Tama Senior, a medium-size passenger car. In 1951, Tokyo Electric Automobile merged with Prince Motor, which in 1966 became part of Nissan.

For more tasty nuggets of Nissan history, indulge yourself in a little virtual tour of the Nissan Heritage website.

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