While giant auto manufacturers spend millions to build electric vehicles, a Japanese family decided to open a family-run business in their garage-workshop and to build eco-friendly electric cars by hand.
Located in the northwest of the country (Toyama), the family-run business makes its electric vehicles from scratch in a garage workshop. There are no assembly lines or industrial robots in sight. Instead just a dozen mechanics crafting each model by hand, right up to the finishing touch of adding a set of beady headlights to their “Milieu” range.
Called Eco Beagle, the mini electric car comes in red, white, green and and canary yellow, having a price of about $9,600. “The mini cars are generally viewed as cars for the elderly, or for drivers who had their normal licenses removed due to drunken driving.” said Manabu Takeoka, the leader of the company. He wants to change the image of small electric vehicles. “We’ve improved the shape of our latest model to make it cuter, to attract younger clients,” he added.
Eco Beagle is powered by a lithium-ion battery that can be charged from a conventional wall socket. With a speed of 60 kilometers per hour, the latest model of this car can drive up to 70 kilometres (45 miles) on one charge.
The company’s lineup includes 6 models made of lightweight fibre-reinforced plastic, ranging from one- to four-seater cars. The models weigh between 300 and 740 kilograms and measure less than three meters. With help from the local electricity company, Takeoka began developing electric cars in the 1990s. Now, the sales are currently at around 100 cars per year.