Almost twenty years before the Tesla Model X, Nissan tried their hand at making a weird electric SUV/minivan crossbred thing. With a little bit of station wagon thrown in for good measure. Enter the Nissan Altra.
You might think at first glance that this is one of those weird Japanese-market station wagons you’ve never heard of (Toyota Caldina anyone?), and you’d be partially right. It’s based on the Nissan R’Nessa, a car that has the dubious distinction of having an apostrophe in it’s name, joining the exclusive club only populated by it and the Kia Cee’d. But, the Altra made it outside of Japan. They were available (kinda) to the general public in the United States of Freedomburgereagleland.
Most of them were fleet vehicles, but I believe some have made it into private hands. This was Nissan’s attempt at cashing in at the big EV boom happening at the time, competing with cars like the EV-1 and original RAV-4 EV, as well as fleet-oriented vehicles like the S10 EV and Ranger EV.
Interestingly, along with being Nissan’s first EV (and therefore the Leaf’s earliest ancestor), it was also the first production EV to use a lithium ion battery, the type of battery that I’m sure you know pretty much every EV worth a damn uses these days. Hats off to you, Altra.