Built in 1947, Nissan's Tama EV, a progenitor of sorts for the Leaf, was a direct result of Japan's recent wartime loss and the Allied Forces' efforts to limit gasoline supply to the country. With electric power plants in the mountains, what was then the Tachikawa Airplane company built an electric vehicle that could go about 60 miles on a single charge and had a top speed of about 22 miles per hour. While the Tama's wood frame (covered in steel) is a relic of the past, its front-opening "alligator" hood, which was unusual at the time, eventually became the norm for production automobiles.
Every now and then Nissan likes to remind people of this little tidbit of EV history. You can see Nissan's new six-minute video on the Tama below, and see here for a 2011 video of the Tama on a test track.