The sleek electric cars made by startups like Tesla and Fisker are prized for their good looks and high speeds. But the EVs made by the tiny Japanese company Takeoka Jidosha Kogei are coveted for a different reason: They’re handmade.
The company’s two-seater Eco Beagle is made by mechanics in a garage workshop. Everything is done by hand, but that doesn’t jack up the cost too much–the Beagle costs just $9,600. Of course, the mini plug-in electric car can’t go very far for that price. It putters along at a maximum speed of 37 mph and goes up to 45 miles before needing to be recharged. The Beagle is just one of six models offered by Takeoka, but all vehicles sold by the company are pretty tiny–each one measures less than 10 feet and weighs between 660 and 1,600 pounds.
Want a handmade electric car of your own? Good luck. Takeoka Jidosha Kogei only makes 100 vehicles each year, and it has no plan to expand operations (plus the street legality in the US is sketchy, falling someone in the realm of a Segway). Still, the company has more experience than most EV makers. Takeoka began building EVs in the 1990s. That’s long before the Tesla Roadster was even a twinkle in Elon Musk’s eye.