QotW: What dead nameplate should be revived as an electric car?

Today, May 20, is Electric Car Day in Japan. It was named so in 2009 after battery company Yuasa restored a century-old electric car. As we hurtle toward the EV era automakers seem to have settled on two main naming strategies. The first is to give their electrified car a new eco-friendly or futuristic-sounding model name like Leaf or bZ4X. The other is to force an existing nameplate on a beloved but unrelated car, like the Mustang Mach E or Toyota Crown. Neither does much for enthusiasts. But perhaps a better plan would be to revive a dormant name that would have no hope of being used otherwise. We would love to see the return of a stylish cruiser like the Cressida, which was never intended an enthusiast’s car when new. Instead, it was built on a reputation as a quiet, smooth operator, characteristics that seem ideal for an EV.

What dead nameplate should be revived as an electric car?

The most entertaining comment by next week will receive a prize. Scroll down to see the winner of last week’s QotW, “What car would you choose for a 100 horsepower or less cross-country rally?“.

This week’s question elicited some of the most creative answers we’ve seen in a QotW. The enormous distances operate in direct opposition to the 100-horsepower limit, forcing entrants to get majorly inventive.

Not surprisingly, kei cars were a popular choice, given the fact that they pack a lot of fun into a low-hp package. Both Jacob B and Land Ark would choose to make the cross-county dash in a Suzuki Cappuccino, which seems like it would start feeling claustrophobic at about the time you arrive in Pennsylvania. Perhaps that’s why crank_case suggested the more spacious Suzuki Alto Works RSR and daniel would pick a Daihatsu Move.

The rules also make it so that the older you go, the more serious the machines at your disposal. Reach back to the 70s and Dillon can slip behind the wheel of his RA24 Celica. Dave Patten would be barreling across the nation in the tried-and-true road racer’s favorite, a Datsun 510. And thatdirtykid would be a serious contender in an SA22 Mazda RX-7.

Rather than all-out sportiness, some opted for extra cargo space and comfort. We got not one, but two Mazda 323 hatchback/wagon entries courtesy of Nigel and Kevin from LaPlataBryan Kitsune would be chugging along in a Tercel 4WD Wagon, while Franxou would traveling in style with a Nissan Pulsar NX.

Some 80s car proponents still prioritized performance, like Lain in his AE86 SR5. If the rally was interspersed with circuit stages CycoPablo would likely do pretty well in his Honda CRX, as would speedie in his P60 Toyota Starlet.

Entrants in 90s machines seemed to be split into two camps. The serious Honda contingent had BW in a SOHC D-series Civic chosen for utmost reliability on a 3,200-mile sprint, and Taylor C making the most of every drop of fuel in an EG Civic VX hatch. The fun cohort chose to maximize amusement in Nissan Pike cars like dankan‘s Figaro and Catbus‘s S-Cargo.

Lastly, a few modern cars made the cut, except for the part about being unavailable in the US. However, if  Ian G. can manage to ship a new Suzuki Jimny here, and Lakdasa can somehow sneak a Suzuki Baleno past customs, they’ll surely go the distance.

We’d love to see every single one of these cars in a zany Wacky Races-style contest buzzing across the country. It’d be way more fun than watching F1 these days, if we’re honest. It was truly hard to choose a victor, but this week’s winner was returning champion StreetSpirit, whose comment about the Autozam AZ-1 made us laugh the most.

So the assignment is to traverse the United states in a loosely organized rally of questionable legality in vehicles that don’t stand a chance against even the most leisurely of donut connoiseurs and their cruisers, even if they’re two days away from retirement?

Got it, reason would dictate an old toyota starlet, blend in, go unnoticed and have more than enough space for all my cargo and comforts i’d need on such an undertaking.
But then again, reason brings us nowhere except for the sofa-like seat of a computerized nannying crossover on a perfectly reasonable financing plan.

Obviously that’s not going to happen, throwing reason even further out the window to the point it lands harshly on the well-kept lawn of my next door neighbor with the grey crossover on the perfectly reasonable financing plan(sorry Steve).

i’d be looking for the most show at the previously limited amount of go.
It’s A U T O Z A M T I M E !

AZ-1 is the way to go. Rallies, much like camping and many other sports are a form of voluntary discomfort and cross country in a cramped wing doored glass house of a sports car with minimal airflow in the cabin is exactly what we need for the proper experience.

I’l paint mine in white-blue Mazda livery with a 935 style front bumper, big lights for the long nights, an f40 style wing on the back and hoshino impuls to complete the look.

Omedetou, your comment has earned you a set of decals from the JNC Shop!

JNC Decal smash

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19 Responses to QotW: What dead nameplate should be revived as an electric car?

  1. Fred Langille says:

    Revival of an old nameplate for an electric car … in this case, I have THREE nameplates, all courtesy of Nissan’s Pike Factory: the Pao, the BE-1, the Figaro and, of course my personal favorite (wonder why, folks) the S-Cargo. All four of them are of a size and design that should go well with electrification, especially the beloved and snail-like S-Cargo! Plenty of room for a battery setup under that flat floor cargo area. With 2 motors up front, there’s now a large frunk that can be used for covered transport of cargo. With the Pao and BE-1, pretty much the same on a smaller scale while the Figaro could also have an electric configuration. Just imagine, in the Figaro anyway the change of the muted colors for Safety Yellow (summer), Bright Blue Current (spring), Black Wire (winter) and Orange You Glad You Didn’t Cut This One (fall)! These colors can also osmose over to the other cars as well (my S-Cargo is Red Bull Blue so, the concept does work well … it IS bright!). With modern updates all four could then be imported here … take THAT VW Buzz! I get another S-Cargo as a stablemate or, any of the other 3 … the choice (hah!) is Nissan’s as this is beyond my pay grade but, filed under wishful thinking!

  2. Mark says:

    None. Put in a real internal combustion engine. This electric car fad is nearly over.

  3. Lee L says:

    I would be fond of a 90s-inspired Toyota Van. AWD, electric, low slung and a blend of 90s roundness ala Toyota Previa and futuristic styling of something like the Hyundai ioniq 5 would be really cool to see.

    If I were to ever buy an electric car I would want it to be very functional from a space perspective and also have some over-the-top styling, which I think the ioniq 5 does well currently.

    • Sammy B says:

      I’d like to second this. The EV Canoo van looks along these lines. “Previa” feels like it could even apply as a somewhat futuristic sounding name still.

      My vote would also be that Nissan could use “IDx”. that feels like could work still. honestly they could just make exactly the concept car they promised us and it would still look good. I’d prefer we got the ICE version they initially said we would, though!

  4. r100guy says:

    Electra-built on a reputation as a quiet, smooth operator, characteristics that seem ideal for an EV.

  5. Ian G. says:

    It would be a Honda (E)lement… phonetically it will be a Honda eel-e-ment or Honda E (US version, not that quirky hatchback not available here).
    The car’s got a huge following despite being discontinued in 2011. We have a huge monthly meet in Jax!

    But being shaped like a brick, the gas mileage is not all that. Mine gets 19 mpg in mixed driving.
    So the many of us that grew to love our toaster would certainly appreciate an electric vehicle of the same name and an actual spiritual successor to the E. Its got to be tall with plenty of headroom, and can accomodate my mountain bikes standing up with the front wheels on inside and room for my dog.
    The overlanding scene would be taken over by the new Honda E.
    Do it, Honda! It would be so Elemental! This would be a VW Buzz-kill!!

  6. Nigel says:

    Here in Canada, I think it was a version of the Sentra. The Nissan Stanza.

  7. Alek Smith says:

    Dodge Neon. They could make it just like the concept.

  8. Franxou says:

    The more I think about it, the more I like this question!

    First of all, let’s forget the Mitsubishi i-MIEV because it was so smol it targeted a niche. I know people who have some and they swear by them for second family-car duty, but too uncommon.
    The first mass-market, everyman’s EV was the Nissan Leaf, with a cheesy earth-friendly name and a polarizing look. Like it or not, when you saw one, you knew you saw one. If it looked like any other Nissan, nobody would have noticed that EV were becoming more and more common.

    Then Tesla came in and made EV cool with a stylish, fast and comfortable car with a conceptual? throwback? futuristic? name, Model S. I skipped the roadster because it was very niche and more a prototype and publicity stunt than a mass market car.

    There was the e-Golf I liked very much when I was shopping for my present car, a sleeper EV with a traditional, commonplace name and look. While VW changed strategy with their IDeverything and futuristic look, the Koreans are now doing great at this stealth EV thing! When you see a Kia Niro, Soul or a Hyundai Kona, it might be a gasser, an hybrid or a full EV, same car, choose your engine.

    If the future is electric, I expect the japanese manufaturers to keep they traditional nameplates and simply swap ICE to EV over one or two generations of the nameplate. The Corolla always was gas only, now it probably is the best hybrid Toyota offers, the next gen could be offered as an optional EV and then the next could be a full EV with range extender for those that do high mileage daily.

    Now I was thinking of some dead nameplates for every brand, and I think the one I will propose to you all is the deadest nameplate of them all: Amati!

    Seeing Mazda was betting on gas and getting in the hybrid and EV game very late, they could go on making an electric brand. There would be a mission switch since Mazda initialy almost created Amati as a luxury brand to compete with Acura and Lexus, but since Mazda itself is going into the pseudo-luxury market, Amati could be brought back but for real this time as an EV, and it might even have a rumored V12 gas-powered range extender.

  9. jidoshaojisan says:

    Mazda should make an electric lineup as the EX line like the RX, MX or the CX lineup.

    Toyota should continue the tradition of using C starting names with names like Current, Charge; repurpose Corona would be the perfect revival name.

    Honda should as someone said use the element name, and make a line of cars with the E prefix much like it did with the N-series automobiles (e-box e-van e-one)

    Nissan should make a Fairlady E, a Skyline GT-E,

    • Yewnos100 says:

      I’d love to have a tiny Mazda city car. A revival of the R360 or the Chantez could work well with electric powertrain (look how many tiny EVs Chinese brands sell, so this could work). Would this be called the EX-1..?

  10. Brian says:

    While not a JNC, I always thought if Ford wanted to force an existing nameplate onto a beloved but unrelated car, they should have gone w/ the Thunderbird and when they inevitably announce a performance variant, that’s when you hit the public with it being a “Lightning” a la the beloved F-150 trim. The ads of Thunderbirds ‘upgrading’ to the Lightning by absorbing & converting the electricity of a thunder & lightning storm write themselves!

  11. dankan says:

    The best JNC name to revive as an EV is also the best name Toyota have in their locker that they gave up on. If you want to actually make EVS work, you need something affordable enough for normal families. None of the cars currently out there really do that. And that is what Toyota could do with a new Corona. Give it some “rounded boxy” lines and a nod to the barrican front end, with a $30k or less price tag and it can lead mass EV adoption the same way the original Corona was part of the tip of the spear that got Japanese brands into North America.

  12. Chet Manley says:

    What I would really want is a sub-$35k compact EV from Toyota that competes with the 500E and Honda Urban called a Tercel. They could keep it in the same sub-compact class so a lack of amenities wouldn’t be a big deal. For styling, they could give it some cool retro touches like 1st generation Tercel-style tail lights, maybe a faux grille and headlights replicating a P30 Publica, and a general body shape of an FX16. For the interior, you could do plaid seats like the 1st gen Tercel 4×4 interior and MR2-style center stack.

    You could even make a Paseo EV based off the compact Tercel EV platform too but with two doors and maybe a retractable hardtop.

  13. nick says:

    Not a Japanese car but the Ford Thunderbird but knowing Ford it’s gonna be a crossover

  14. Franxou says:

    Yay the contest is over so I can offer my punniest idea for this QOTW: the Acura E-Vigor, to play on the EV sound!
    I’ll see myself out…

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