The Spring 2022 issue of Rare & Unique Vehicles will feature Roman Bertelov’s revolutionary plastic-bodied trucks and hybrid minivan. As a sidebar it will also look at some Soviet electric vehicles.
While a few experimental trucks were built before World War II, NAMI, the research institute for the automobile industry, received its first proper task to develop a small electric van in 1947. The vehicle was to have a payload of 500 to 1500 kg, a range of 65 km, and a maximum speed of 30 km/h. While NAMI 750 and 751 prototypes used lead-acid batteries, the 20 units produced by the Lviv Bus plant featured iron-nickel batteries. This project failed because total costs were twice as expensive as those of a bigger ZIS 5 truck and the vehicles were very unreliable.
Other prototypes from other institutes followed, such as the EMO-2 by VNII-ET in Kaliningrad, which used silver-zinc batteries and asynchronous AC motors. The range of the car was 100 km.
The honor of the first electric car produced in a smaller series belongs to VAZ, maker of the Lada. Their 2802 two-door van used a 25-kW electric motor, which was supported by nickel-zinc batteries, the weight of which reached 380 kg. The power reserve did not exceed 130 km, and the maximum speed was 87 km/h. Between 1976 and 1984, 47 such cars were built.
After years, even decades of experiments perfecting an electric minivan, the UAZ plant came up with the 3801 in 1980. This minivan had a range of 70 km. Its batteries were stored in special compartments with easy access from the side of the vehicle. Between 1980 and 1985 65 units were built.
You can find more information and picture in the Spring 2022 issue of Rare & Unique Vehicles magazine.