The Japanese automaker is well known in the green community for producing the best-selling electric vehicle in the world – the Lea – and recently they celebrated an interesting milestone.
It turns out they first produced an electric vehicle – sort of a grandfather to the current Leaf – way back seven decades ago. We’re talking about the Tama model, the earliest chapter in the carmaker’s success EV story. The model appeared out of need back then – gasoline was scarce in Japan in the late 1940s, but powerplants were delivering plenty electricity. Back then, 200 former workers at Tachikawa Aircraft started the Tokyo Electro Automobile Company. Their first model appeared in 1947 as a small pickup and the four-seater passenger car joined soon.
Tama had a DC motor producing 4.5 horsepower (3.3 kilowatts), power coming from two lead-acid batteries – which could be taken out for easy switching. The 40-volt, 162-amp-hour powertrain delivered 40 miles (65 kilometers) on a charge and top speed stood at a mere 22 miles per hour (35 kilometers per hour). The range was successful enough to get enhanced – Tama Junior, a compact passenger car was first showcased in 1948 and the bigger Tama Senior came in 1949. The Tokyo Electro Automobile Company later became the Tama Motor Company and then changed name again into the Prince Motor Company – which as of 1966 was a subsidiary fo Nissan.