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New York show: Nismo reveals wild Leaf RC track-car

Electric racer: Nismo has gone green with its lightweight Nissan Leaf-based EV track car.

Nissan’s tuning arm unveils its take on the Leaf EV ahead of its New York debut

Nissan logo19 Apr 2011

By MIKE COSTELLO

NISSAN’S famed Nismo tuning house will unveil its radical take on the Leaf electric vehicle at the New York motor show on April 20.

The Nismo Leaf RC (short for Racing Competition) may share a name with Nissan’s mass-produced EV, but the chopped, dropped and hollowed-out track-car leaves almost everything else from its donor-vehicle at the door.

This racing Leaf has a full carbon-fibre monocoque body, including three-piece bodywork comprising removable front and rear sections, fixed windows, LED headlights and tail-lights, and a driver-adjustable rear wing.

As a result of its beefy bodykit, the RC is 170mm wider and 20mm longer than the standard Leaf, despite having two less doors. The wheelbase is a tick under 100mm shorter than the standard Leaf’s, while a lopped roof and lowered suspension – the RC sits just 60mm above the ground- gives it a 355mm lower roofline.

The standard Leaf’s rear seating, boot, audio system, navigation and carpeting join the rear doors on the scrap heap, giving the RC a 40 per cent cut to the car’s kerb weight. Despite having to contend with a heavy lithium-ion battery pack, the RC tips the scales at just 938kg. The RC retains the standard Leaf’s 80kW/280Nm electric motor, which Nissan claims will take the hard-core racer to 100km/h in 6.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 150km/h.

Nissan says the Nismo is projected to have a running time of around 20 minutes under racing conditions, meaning endurance races are unlikely to be on the RC’s CV any time soon.

After establishing itself as a major player in the world’s burgeoning EV market, Nissan says that it is looking at racing as a way to “draw attention to the seemingly untapped potential of electric vehicles”.

“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 the chairman of Nissan Americas, Carlos Tavares.

“Nissan Leaf owners are fully embracing this new world of zero-emission technology. We believe the same potential exists in the motorsports world as well, with Nissan proud to be first on the starting grid.”

Meanwhile, Nissan is preparing to bring around 5300 Leaf EVs back into service departments after a possible software glitch in the vehicle control module was discovered to be causing start-failure on some cars.

The standard Leaf is slated for Australian arrival during the first quarter of 2012.

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