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Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Tommy Kaira ZZII - Reborn?

Image from goodcar.cn (link below)
On Sunday, I posted a write-up on the wonderful-yet-tragically-miscarried Tommy Kaira ZZII, which first appeared in 2000, never to make production. After a bit of googling, it would appear that it might be undergoing something of a rebirth. A Chinese website says something about a "long awaited Tommy Kaira 'Resurrection Programme'". I can't read Chinese, and of course the Google translation is a little loose. Here are excerpts from the article, taken from Goodcar.cn and translated by Google:

Transformers Tommy Kaira ZZ 2010 back modified 

[12/8/2010]

"The company headquarters in Kyoto, Japan, "Green Road Motors" in a few days ago announced in Kyoto has produced once all the rage "Tommy Kaira" modified series of sports cars."

"For the company long-awaited Tommy Kaira "Resurrection" program has been successful from the 2010 Tokyo Motor Show and published are taking an important step. The next car will be on specific sales volume and program planning. The project leader is the founder of Tommy Kaira said Yoshikazu Tomita will be announced in November this year [2010], new car test drive modified cars."

""Green Road Motors" Kyoto University, own the business"

Interesting...

I looked up "Green Road Motors" to find they're actually called "Green Lord Motors". Seemingly part of Kyoto University, they are developing an electric version of the original ZZ. CrunchGear adds some clarity:

"In April this year, a group of graduate school students at Kyoto University announced the launch of a venture called Green Lord Motors. As the name suggests, it’s a car company, and yesterday, it took the wraps off its first offering: a replica of the popular Tommykaira ZZ as an electric vehicle."

Image from Akihabara News
And so it turns out that Tommy Kaira has teamed up with "Green Lord Motors" to bring back the little ZZ as an electric car, which is of course called the ZZ-EV. On 7th February this year, their first ZZ-EV prototype was shown off. Fitted with a 150v DC motor, it should manage a top speed of 150km/h (93mph) and a range of 100km (62.1 miles), though not at the same time, of course. No word on the ultimate power output, but it does weigh the same 670kg as the original ZZ, which had a carburetted 2.0 Inline-4. It's definitely slower than the engine-powered one, but that's the price you pay for saving the world. Or something.

Where does the fabled ZZII come into all this? Well, according to Akihabara News, if the ZZ-EV is a sales success - it's set to launch this June, with an expectation of 100 units a year - then they will put their electric powertrain into the ZZII to make a more civilised car than this Spartan little Elise-alike. In an ideal world, this wouldn't be how the ZZII finally came to fruition, but if they do make them, there's always the hope that someone (me if I come into a lot of money) will remember the 2000 prototype and swap a GT-R engine into it. Besides, the current focus on battery power has caused an increasing number of companies to make cars in the same vein as the ZZ-EV, such as the Tesla Roadster, in order to stand out among the myriad small sports car manufacturers, and perhaps to justify a high price tag. The ZZ-EV is targeting an $81,000 price tag, which is R35 GT-R money, so it'll need to be convincing. While that does undercut the more comparable Tesla by $18,000, that has been around for 3 years now, so it's almost definitely more refined. All the same, here's hoping it all works out this time!

I also hope their efforts aren't harmed by the recent natural disaster in Japan, and if so, my best wishes go to all involved. Kyoto is relatively far away from the epicentre, but all the same, I hope minimal or ideally no losses have been suffered - with a Magnitude 8.9 quake, they will have felt something.

Here's a closer look at the ZZ-EV prototype:

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