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Maybe you’ve seen the meme. Usually these things are blown out of proportion, but in this case, it’s Ture: A Japanese company did develop an electric car in 1947 that went pretty far on charge. While the meme says “200 KM,” the truth is 65 kilometers, which even in today’s EV World isn’t terrible. It was the first Nissan EV, sort of.

It was available as a two-seat truck with a tiny flat bed or a four-seat car

1947 Nissan TAMA
The TAMA was Nissan’s first EV car in 1947 | Nissan

In post-war Japan, gasoline was pretty much unavailable. But, the country did have lots of hydroelectric power. So, a team of engineers from TachikawaAircraft, which later became Prince Motors which later became Nissan, built the TAMA. Nissan restored the TAMA and now uses it to link Nissan’s new Leaf EV to the company’s history.

Nissan restored the 1947 TAMA EV

The TAMA could go 65 kilometers, or about 40 miles, on one charge, seat four, and has a top speed of 35 kph, or 21 mph. The motor has 4.5 horsepower. A gasoline model was also available.

The heavy battery is under the floor, just like in today’s EVS, and it provides Instant acceleration.

In the video you can see the TAMA’s old-style turn signals flip out from the windshield’s A-pillar. Many cars in Japan had signals like that at the time.

The TAMA the first Nissan EV

In the above video, Masahiko Isobe of the Nissan Restoration Team, said Prince motors and engineers from Tachikawa Airplane worked together to create the TAMA. In the mountains of Japan, he said, there was more hydroelectric power than in the cities, and it made sense to launch an electric car.

But it was made simply, he said, with the materials that were available at the time. The windshield, for example, is flat glass. The “bonnet,” or hood,  opened like an alligator but was made of a simple stamping.

The car uses a direct-current motor and a battery. It uses a simple resistor to control the “gas” pedal.

Nissan is now trying to connect the TAMA to the Leaf

Rear angle view of the new 2023 Nissan LEAF EV, one of the cheapest new electric vehicle you can buy
2023 Nissan LEAF | Nissan News

The TAMA wasn’t the only electric car for sale at the time in Japan. Several companies made them, but the TAMA is getting attention as Nissan has tried to connect the TAMA to the Leaf EV, which is now into its second decade of production.

The Leaf is not known to be quick, or luxurious, but it is known to be inexpensive. The leaf starts at about $27,000, but with incentives can be had for about $20,000, making it the cheapest electric car you can buy. The Leaf is also known to be very inexpensive to operate and maintain.

Unlike the TAMA, the Leaf is thoroughly modern. It has about 200 miles of range from its 147-horsepower electric motor, can easily cruise at highway speeds, and it’s a hatchback that can hold a bunch of your stuff.

For 2023, Nissan gave the Leaf a refresh that makes it look like a much more premium car than its pricetag suggests.

The leaf has a 40 kilowatt battery pack, while the old TAMA had a much more humble 3.3 kilowatt battery.

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