TOP > ZERO EMISSION > History > Altra EV (called the R’nessa EV in Japan)

Altra EV (called the R’nessa EV in Japan)

Introduced at the Los Angeles International Auto Show in 1997, the Altra EV was the first production electric vehicle to use a lithium-ion battery in the North American market.
This award-winning electric minivan (honored as one of the "greenest cars" by Green Guide to Cars and Trucks in 1999) was sold both in Japan and the United States, though only an estimated 200 units were produced.
The initial units were delivered to utility companies, including Southern California Edison Company, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. They were even used as “meter maid cars” (parking enforcement vehicles) by the Santa Monica Police Department. For a brief period, Altra EV were also rented out at the Los Angeles International Airport.
Charging was by a proven, safe, user-friendly inductive battery charging system through an electromagnetic paddle inserted into a charge port located in the front grille. The 83-horsepower (62 kW) synchronous motor utilized a high-performance Neodymium-Iron-Born alloy internal magnet rated at an approximately 89 percent operating efficiency. The Altra EV's 12-module lithium-ion battery (Li-ion) pack was located under the passenger compartment floor and offered a driving range (combined city/highway) of 130 km (80 miles). It also offered a 4-wheel Anti-lock Braking System (ABS), regenerative braking, a 120 km/h (75 mph) top speed and an 800-pound passenger/cargo capacity.
Altra EV drivers were treated to amenities such as air conditioning, power windows and door locks, a premium audio system and dual supplemental air bags.
The model name Altra EV was coined from the English words “ALTternative to gas power vehicles” and “ultra”.

Go back to top of this page