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Published on January 20th, 2012 | by Charis Michelsen


Subaru 360 Revived as Battery Electric Car — For the Cuteness

January 20th, 2012 by  

Saitama Driving School Subaru 360 Conversion

Image Courtesy of Response.jp

The Auto Salon 2012 at the Makuhari Messe in Chiba, Japan has several neat projects. One of those is a DIY electric conversion project, planned and carried out by the Saitama Driving School. In a bid to host something cute, trendy, and green (the cute was mainly to attract female students), the driving school converted a Subaru 360 to all electric.

Nostalgia Running on an Electric Motor

The 360 was the first car produced by Subaru as a subsidiary of Fuji Heavy Industries, built mostly in the 60s (and a couple years on each side of that decade). It’s small, round, and sort of Beetle-esque, and it was built to conform to kei car specifications (the little tiny ones with a number of tax and inspection advantages).

Replacing the engine with an electric motor and the fuel tank with batteries took about a month and a half and cost the school close to 600,000 yen. The batteries are lead acid, and take the car about 30 miles on a full charge. It has a top speed of 37mph, which is more than enough for either a road test or driving through pretty much any town in semi-rural Japan.

Approved for Track Use Only

One of the school’s employees, who apparently preferred to remain nameless, told Response that the school has been working with electric vehicles for the past three years. He said:

“We’re seeing our students paying attention to electric cars now. In order to connect with students and prospective students, we decided to learn more about this phenomenon. We had a Subaru 360 in the school, and we decided to remodel it.”

It can’t be said for sure whether or not the converted 360 has gotten them any new students, but the car is seen driving around the school’s track on a regular basis. Of course, part of the reason the car is on the track so much is that it doesn’t have the inspection sticker every car in Japan is required to have before being allowed on public roads.

Lack of the inspection sticker hasn’t dampened the school’s enthusiasm for either EVs or DIY projects, though. Their next bit of fun is converting a Daihatsu Mira to a plug-in hybrid. Successful or not, it’s always nice to see an institution having a bit of fun.

Questions? Comments? Let us know below.

Source | Image: Response.jp 

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About the Author

spent 7 years living in Germany and Japan, studying both languages extensively, doing translation and education with companies like Bosch, Nissan, Fuji Heavy, and others. Charis has a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and currently lives in Chicago, Illinois. She also believes that Janeway was the best Star Trek Captain.

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