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Showa Aircraft Introducing Two New EVs in Japan

Showa’s new e-Van electric commercial vehicle.

Showa Aircraft Industry Co. announced that it is building two electric vehicles for the commercial and consumer markets.

The firm plans to begin marketing a commercial minivehicle—the e-Van—in October, making use of a base model from Fuji Heavy Industries. This vehicle will use a Zebra sodium nickel chloride battery from MES-DEA, for which Showa Aircraft will be the exclusive Japanese importer.

The e-Van is a remodeled electric version of Fuji Heavy’s Sambar commercial minivehicle. It will have a driving range of 150 km (93 miles) with a maximum cruising speed of 90 km/h (56 mph), powered by the 278V, 21.2 kWh battery. The e-Van will be priced at ¥ 3.5 million (US$30,000) or less.

The one-person, four-wheeled #1.

In 2008, the company intends to manufacture its own one-person four-wheeled motorized vehicle, the “#1”. With a 93V, 10.6 kWh Zebra battery pack, the vehicle will have a range of 250 km (155 miles) with a maximum cruising speed of 55 km/h (34 mph). The product will be priced between ¥900,000 to 1.5-million (US$7,700 to 12,900).

Zebra sodium nickel chloride (Na/NiCl2) batteries are characterized by high-power, high-capacity cells with a high operating temperature (>270° C). They have an energy density 5 times greater than lead-acid, and a cycle-life greater than 1,000. The batteries need pre-heating to get up to the operating temperature, and can use up to 14% of their own capacity to maintain temperature when not in use.

With the high operating temperature, the battery pack thus needs to be enclosed in a thermally insulated box, and is bulky. Hence, it tends to turn up applied in larger vehicles. Because of the energy density to cost ratio, however, they have been applied in numerous electric traction applications, from taxis to buses, including the new Modec electric commercial van (earlier post).

Showa Aircraft now makes a range of special-purpose vehicles and aircraft-related products. Established in 1937, it manufactured more than 800 planes, mainly transport planes, through the end of WW II. The company began working on a single-seat electric car—Q-CAR—in November, 2002.



Rafael Seidl

Nice to see some smaller vehicles coming out with Zebra batteries. Competition between battery technologies in the marketplace will advance the art more quickly than anything else.

The van appears to be the more useful of the two vehicles, at least in Japan where the speed limit is 90 kph anyhow. If the price is right, it could find a niche as a light duty commercial vehicle in urban areas.

allen zheng

They could also be used at facilities, like airports...or indoor/underground.


A personal vehicle is a great idea but I doubt there is much use for a "motorized wheelchair" that can travel 250km at a speed of 50km/h. (Takes 5 hours to deplete the battery)

I am longing for a single seater EV to commute to work. Part of that journey is city traffic and parts of it is motorway. A usable EV needs to be able to travel at a minimum of 80 km/h. So please give up a 100km in range for improved speed. Oh and while you are at it, do something about the styling of this thing. I don't like the "invalid" or "Golf Cart" look.

As for range, I never understand people claiming range is an issue with city cars while the max distance traveled on a day rarely exceeds 100km anyway. With the current petrol prices I know plenty of people who can not afford to keep their money tied up in gas and only refuel $10 at a time effectivly reducing their range to around 100km

Just my 5 cents worth


Mike, the max speed should be in mpH, not mpG ;)


Thanks! Corrected.


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