Electric cars are the new craze in the automotive industry at the moment. Automakers are looking into EVs to meet stricter fuel economy and emissions regulations and as a viable form of transportation for when the world uses up its deposits of fossil fuels. While electric cars may be getting a lot of attention, the technology behind the machines is pretty old.
The new Nissan Leaf may not be the most exciting car on the road, but when it comes to looking into the future, it’s definitely a much better alternative to the old model. It’s more powerful, it has more range, and, in the grand scheme of things, it’s just a better car.
While some may think that the Leaf or the e-NV200 – remember that thing? – were some of the first EVs from the automaker, they’re actually part of a lineage that spans back by roughly 70 years. The automaker recently put out a video where it showcases the first EV it ever made – the Tama – and the newest one to wear the brand’s iconic badge – the Leaf.
There’s no point in going in-depth on the Tama, as the video below does a great job of doing that. And it would be an injustice for the car, as it deserves a post of its own to cover. But here’s some quick background information on the little EV.
After World War II, oil was scarce in Japan, forcing automakers to look into different sources of power for transportation. Prince Motors, which went on to become Nissan, thinking outside of the box, came up with the Tama back in 1947. The vehicle was a truck with enough room for two passengers and up to 1,000 lbs. of cargo in the back.
The Tama had a 4.5-hp (3.3 kW) electric motor and a 40-volt lead-acid battery. That’s not a lot, but the EV could hit 21 mph (35 km/h) and had a range of 40 miles (65 km). Again, that’s nothing by today’s standards, but it was impressive back in ’47.
Even more interestingly, Prince Motors used a lot of the same thought process behind the Tama as modern automakers. The battery, for example, was placed under the floor of the vehicle, keeping the center of gravity as low as possible.
The idea of an electric vehicle may not be that exciting, but when you see a modern electric car being driven side-by-side alongside a nearly 70-year-old example, it’s hard not to get excited.