Nissan tunes all-electric Leaf for race track; bestows 'Nismo' badge

To underscore how serious it is about electric powertrains, Japanese automaker Nissan has unveiled the Leaf Nismo RC, a zero-emissions race car.
Written by Andrew Nusca, Contributor on

To underscore how serious it is about electric powertrains, Japanese automaker Nissan announced on Sunday the Leaf Nismo RC, a zero-emissions race car.

The vehicle, a purpose-built prototype ("RC" stands for "Racing Competition"), uses production components from the consumer Leaf model but wraps them in a carbon fiber body.

It made its world debut Wednesday at the New York International Auto Show.

The car is not exactly your Sunday driver -- it lacks rear doors, rear seat, trunk, audio system, navigation, carpeting and pretty much any item that the family might want in the more pedestrian Leaf.

Still, a "green" race car it is, and it's no stunt, either -- with 100 percent available torque from the moment you step on the gas, an electric powertrain indeed has its advantages against its gasoline-sipping cousins.

A few stats about the machine:

  • Full carbon fiber monocoque bodywork in three pieces.
  • Rmovable front and rear sections.
  • Fixed windows.
  • LED headlights and taillights.
  • Adjustable rear wing.
  • Double-wishbone suspension, front and rear.
  • Driver-adjustable brake balance.
  • 18-inch six-spoke wheels wrapped in P225/40R18 Bridgestone racing rubber.
  • 3.9-inch shorter wheelbase, 0.8 inches longer and 6.7 inches wider than a production Leaf. It's 13.8 inches shorter than production, too, with a 2.4-in. ground clearance, compared to 6.3 inches in production.
  • 2,068 pounds, about 40 percent less than production.

It also has a different layout than production: a mid-ship location for the battery pack, electric motor and inverter, with drive to the rear wheels instead of the front.

But the Nismo RC has the same lithium-ion battery (48 compact modules) as the production Leaf paired to a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor, generating 107 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque.

On the track, that translates to 0 to 62 miles per hour in 6.85 seconds and a top speed of 93 miles per hour. It can run for 20 minutes before petering out. (So: it won't outrun the stars of Fast Five, but it's a start.)

It can be charged up to 80 percent of its full capacity in 30 minutes using the quick charging port located inside the rear cowl.

“The Nissan LEAF NISMO RC will serve as a rolling laboratory for the accelerated development of EV and aerodynamic systems, as well as a platform for the development of new green motorsports series,” said Nissan Americas chairman Carlos Tavares in a statement.

Here's a look in a video:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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