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10 EV Nissans That Paved the Road for Electric Innovation

1947 Nissan “Tama” Electric Vehicle

The Tama was produced by the Tama electric car company, which inevitably would be purchased by Nissan in 1968, by then known as the prince motor company ltd. Created as a way to skirt rising oil prices in Japan post world war 2, the government of Japan compelled manufacturers to produce electric cars through benefits and tax breaks.- Created as a way to skirt rising oil prices in Japan post world war 2, the government of Japan compelled manufacturers to produce electric cars through benefits and tax breaks. The Tama was of consequence due to its strong construction and great reliability. The Tama claimed a range of 65 kilometers, or 40 miles, on a single charge and a top speed of 34 km/h, or 21 mph. This served the car well, as when Japan’s ministry of commerce and industry found that it was capable of 96.3 km (59 miles) and 35 km/h (22 mph) on a single charge, with a 500kg load capacity! These humble beginnings gave the car the position it served for most of its life, as taxis, small work trucks, and people carriers. The Tama also sported a rarity in cars, where engineers think of owners/mechanics. The battery that powers the car’s 4.5 bhp motor was installed with wheels to allow for easy removal and changing.


1973 Nissan EV4

Pictured above: the EV4-P at the top in an orange and white paint job. The EV4-H appears at the bottom in yellow and has a boxier build.

Continuing the Japanese government’s pushing the EV trend, the EV4-P was built in conjunction with the Industrial Science and Technology Agency of the Ministry of International Trade and Industry starting in 1971. This so that by 1973, the EV4-P was road-ready and the most impressive EV to date. It also carried the greatest mileage on a single charge of an EV for the time, 302 kilometers (188 miles) at a constant speed of 40 km/h (24.5 mph). All while averaging a stout 0-40 km/h in 6.9 seconds.

The second truck, the EV4-H, was built upon the lessons learned from the EV4-P and employed a hybrid drivetrain. In this case, hybrid meant simply two types of batteries high-output lead-acid batteries and high-energy-density zinc-air batteries, and a control system that optimized the balance between the two in various driving conditions. The EV4-H clocked an impressive range of 496 kilometers (308 miles) on a single charge with the hybrid system. It could accelerate 0-40 km/h in 4.9 seconds.


1983 Nissan March EV

The Nissan March EV was the first experimental electric car to adopt an innovative electric propulsion system with an induction motor and two-speed electromagnetic transmission. As a result, the battery yielded a range of 160 kilometers at a constant speed of 40 km/h.


1985 Nissan EV Guide-II

Introduced at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1985, the EV-II was a six-seater commuter vehicle created as a concept for the show. Not to be put into production, the EV-II was repurposed after the show to assist on Nissan’s production floor as a people carrier. This usage was extended to the carrying of VIPs and royalty for its stark windows and open air design, making it a perfect sightseeing car. The EV-II was capable of 16 km/h and 60 km per charge.


1991 Nissan President EV

The special-purpose convertible based on the third generation President JHG50 (1990-2003). This electric vehicle was not mass-produced and was lent out by Nissan for use in special events such as transporting sumo champions in victory parades and as the leading car in marathons. It was also used at the IAAF World Championships in Athletics in 1991.

It adopted the conventional zinc battery instead of the cutting-edge lithium-ion battery (Li-ion) for special purposes like parading or low-speed running. With a top speed of 40 km/h, it offered a driving range of 100 km on a single battery charge. It accelerated 0-30 km/h in 3 seconds and 0-40 km/h in 9.5 seconds.


1995 Nissan FEV-II

First shown at the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show as a follow-up to the first FEV, this time sporting a more nimble body with contemporary 90’s styling. Packing a 55KW engine capable of bringing the concept to 120 km/h, the FEV-II was certainly no slouch. Additionally, air conditioning was optioned using an EV-specific heat-pump style system. Mind you, the FEV-II’s 200 km+ range was tested without the AC, so blast at your own risk.


1997 Nissan Altra EV (R’nessa)

The Altra EV had one goal only: break EVs into the North American market. Debuting at the 1997 Los Angeles Auto Show, The Altra was slated to be the first lithium ion-powered electric vehicle sold here. In practice, though, the car was sold in Japan and California. But Californians couldn't just go to their Nissan dealership to buy one of these. The first and only 200 delivered to the US all went to municipalities/utilities in California. Nissan does note, though, that they were made available for rent from the LA international airport at one time. Range from the Altra EV was expected, at about 80 miles a charge and a top speed of 75 mph. The name Altra came from Americans looking for “ALTernatives to gas cars” and the word “Ultra.”


2007 Nissan Mixim

The Mixim’s futuristic design and unique interface allude to the prospective buyer of such a vehicle: the Gamer. Nissan describes this potential client as “young drivers who are mostly engaged by their computer and the world via the internet.” Aside from this, the Mixim’s wide-opening butterfly doors and sporty drivetrain made this concept a great view of what was to come. Viewers too can see the beginning of the Leaf lifecycle here, with tons of cues from this car going into that later production. Specs are hard to come by, but AutoexpressUK claims the electric engines were worth a good 134 bhp, and 0-60 was completed in just under 10.5 seconds. This comes from the Mixim’s twin output shaft design on its electric motors, allowing for true 4wd and torque vectoring.


2009 Nissan Leaf

Arguably one of the most important electric vehicles any manufacturer had made to that point, Nissan had opened the floodgates to affordable electric car ownership. The first generation Nissan Leaf lacked power and range though, base trim initially only came with 70 miles of battery, quickly upgraded to 90 miles. The car made 107 hp and 207 lb/f going to the front wheels. Nissan touted the first gen as an exceptionally slippery car, allowing the gas savings to be ever more apparent with a drag coefficient of 0.29. The Leaf had two major pitfalls, though: The initial price still outweighed the gas savings you would find on similarly priced vehicles, and the battery was only rated for 100,000 miles. If you are in Japan, this is not a problem as Nissan has a battery refurbishment program, but in the US, we do not.


2016 Nissan BladeGlider

Based upon the original 2013 BladeGlider concept, Nissan built on the platform and furthered it. Unveiled just prior to the Rio Olympics in 2016, the BladeGlider had changed both in form and function. The car now sported two 130kW motors and a 220kW battery allowing for emotive performance. This, coupled with the 500+lb/f of torque, the car could reach 60 mph in 4.8 seconds with a top speed of 115 mph. Nissan again used the BladeGlider as a design study to express the intentions of Nissan’s design for years to come.

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