1947 Nissan WWII Tama is the great-grandfather of the Leaf electric vehicle

Article by Anita Panait, on April 5, 2013

With the advent of electric vehicles nowadays, you may be thinking that carmakers only started to produce this kind of mobile transport just years or a decade ago. Perhaps you need to think again. Meet the great-grandfather of the Nissan Leaf, the Tama EV, which the carmaker has recently restored.

Made in 1947 or just a few years after Japan was defeated by the Allied forces in World War II, the Tama EV was the result of people’s desperation to create a vehicle that does not rely on gasoline.

During that time, the Allied forces were controlling the auto industry as well as the supply of gasoline. So engineers at Nissan Motor and Prince Motor (formerly known as Tachikawa Airplane) decided to develop a certain vehicle that suits the situation at that time.

They saw that electricity was in abundance especially in the mountains where electric power plants and hydro-electric power plants are operating. They eventually decided to develop a vehicle that runs on electricity – resulting to the creation of the Tama EV.

The physical attributes of the Tama EV points to it being designed and developed by airplane engineers. For instance, the Tama’s hinged bonnet looked like an opened mouth of an alligator; hence it was nicknamed “alligator mouth.” At the time, it was considered ugly, since bonnets were then opened at the side. However, if one takes a look at the cars today, it’s notable that all of them now open like an alligator’s mouth.

There was one good reason for the alligator’s mouth: it makes maintenance easier to do. Another unique physical attribute of the Tama is its completely flat windshield, just like all the cars during the period. It contrasts with the shape of the front windows nowadays, which are all curved.

One of the striking attributes of the Tama EVE are its blinkers that pop in and out, as they were used as turning signals. This type of signal, called “Apollo” after a company that produced them, was also employed in large-sized buses as well as vehicles of the Jeep brand in the United States.

The new Nissan LEAF promises a fun, highly responsive driving experience. It is powered by innovative compact lithium-ion batteries that deliver over 90kW of power output and an electric motor that can generate 80kW/280Nm. These make the LEAF at par with gasoline-powered vehicles.

Unlike vehicles that are equipped with internal combustion engine (ICE), the Nissan LEAF’s power train is without a tail pipe and has therefore zero greenhouse gas emissions. It is also equipped with a regenerative braking system that, when combined with its lithium-ion batteries, gives the car a driving range of over 100 miles on one full charges. According to consumer research, this range achieves the daily driving requirement of 70 percent of the world’s driving consumers.

The Nissan LEAF is very easy to charge. You can charge the LEAF at home using a 200V outlet for about eight hours. You can also use a quick charger and the car will charge up to 80 percent of its total capacity in nearly 30 minutes.

Nissan’s team of designers and engineers have undoubtedly come up with a competitively priced vehicle, one that has placed the company at the top when it comes to zero-emissions mobility.

The Nissan LEAF also achieved spaciousness, cargo capacity, as well as comfort, through its new body layout and chassis.

According to Masato Inoue, product chief designer at Nissan, the LEAF is the first ever medium-sized, practical EV that is affordable and that motorists would be eager to drive on a daily basis. He says that the car’s styling identifies not only the LEAF itself but also the driver as a participant and supporter in this age of zero-emission mobility.

When it comes to the LEAF’s distinctive design, even the minutest of details can achieve a tremendous effect. Its frontal style is characterized by long, up-slanting and light-emitting diode or LED headlights in a sharp and upright V-shaped position. These headlights have a blue internal reflective design conveying that the car is special. They are also designed to split or redirect the airflow away from the car’s door mirrors, reducing drag and wind noise. Lastly, they use up only 10 percent of the electricity that conventional lamps normally consume, therefore helping the LEAF achieve world-class range autonomy.

Topics: nissan, electric car

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