Following the launch of the zero emission Nissan LEAF passenger vehicle late last year in the United States, Europe and Japan, Nissan is now looking at the racing world as a way to draw attention to the seemingly untapped potential of electric vehicles.
The Nissan LEAF NISMO RC is designed and constructed as a real racing machine, starting with its full carbon fibre monocoque bodywork. The three-piece bodywork includes removable front and rear sections, fixed windows, LED headlights and taillights and driver-adjustable rear wing. Building on the unique exterior styling of the production Nissan LEAF, the 2-door race version was created by Nissan Global Design Center in Japan. Special 4-coat Pearl White paint with blue NISMO/Zero Emission graphics completes the exterior
"Combining the talents of NISMO, Nissan's world renowned motorsports group, and engineers behind some of the company's Super GT and FIA GT1 race teams, 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 Carlos Tavares, chairman, Nissan Americas, speaking at the New York International Auto Show.
Dimensionally, the race car features a 3.9-inch shorter wheelbase, is 0.8 inches longer and 6.7 inches wider. The most dramatic difference is height, with the NISMO RC sitting more than a foot (13.8 inches) lower than the production Nissan LEAF. Ground clearance is limited to 2.4 inches, compared to 6.3 inches for the road going car. The race car weighs about 40 percent lighter than the production vehicle at 2,068 pounds.
Like the production Nissan LEAF, the NISMO RC is powered by a lithium-ion battery composed of 48 compact modules and a high-response 80kW AC synchronous motor that generates 107 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. 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.
In preliminary testing the NISMO RC produces 0 to 62 mph acceleration in 6.85 seconds and a top speed of 93 miles per hour. It is projected to have a running time of around 20 minutes under racing conditions.
"There's a perception among some people that electric vehicles fall on the dull side of the automotive enthusiasm scale âˆ' which is certainly not the case with either the production Nissan LEAF or this electrifying Nissan LEAF NISMO RC," added Tavares.
The new electric race vehicle will likely make a series of special demonstration appearances at various motorsports venues in 2011, with the company exploring pioneer zero emission competition spec series in future years.