Imperial Coachbuilders to convert the Nissan Leaf into a limousine

Article by Christian Andrei, on September 26, 2011

Imperial Coachbuilders Inc. of Springfield, Mo., will start to build Leaf conversions this month with a focus on supplying zero-emission limos to environmentally-conscious fleet customers. It’s no simple task to stretch a Nissan Leaf that has a lithium ion battery module. Tom Catterson, Imperial's director of marketing, said that the first thing that the engineering staff had to do was dismantle a Leaf to determine where they could cut the car in half without obstructing the battery structure.

They found out that the saw line will zigzag across the car immediately at the back of the driver's seat. Weight is the other challenge.

With the Leaf's lightweight architecture, the battery could offer 80 to 100 miles of driving. But to build a stretch limo, Imperial would have to add space for four passengers at the rear. This means the addition of four feet of car with added weight and a shorter battery range.

To solve this issue, Imperial teamed up with Liberty Electric Cars, an electric-vehicle conversion company based in the United Kingdom. Imperial had decided that it will equip the Leaf limo with a second lithium ion battery. Catterson said that it will have the same battery range and that it will “make a great limo."

No matter how small a feature is, it can still have an incredible impact. One example of this is when looking at the interior of the Nissan LEAF. With the use of bright trim colors, it gives the cabin an excellent style and a pleasant feel. On the inside is the blue earth color motif that includes having the highlights of the dashboard and the lighting of the instrument in blue. This particular theme is the same as the Aqua Globe body color that was first observed on the introductory version of the LEAF.

For the exterior, the front has a style that is defined by the vertical and sharp V-shaped design. It makes use of headlights, housing light-emitting diodes, which are long and slanted upwards. By utilizing a blue internal reflective design, the LEAF appears to broadcast that it is truly special. In addition to delivering a visual aesthetic to the car, it has a functional purpose as the way it has been designed ensures that the airflow is split and then channeled away from the mirrors on the doors. This results in lower drag and reduced wind noise.

Even with this, there is still another advantage to having these headlights on the LEAF. Since they make use of LEDs, electricity expended is merely 10% when compared to traditional lights. No wonder then that the LEAF is able to attain range autonomy that is first-rate. An interesting feature inside the LEAF is an IT system that is both advanced and exclusive to this model. This system ensures that drivers are able to get important information, the needed support, and even entertainment, anytime within the day.

This is because it has been connected to a global data center. Chief Product Specialist Tooru ABE shares that having an IT system inside the LEAF is what gives it that significant advantage. With these IT features, he adds, it became possible for the company to have a vehicle that would kickstart the zero-emission community.

The company also envisioned this vehicle to enhance passenger experience and act as the driver’s partner, he continues. There is also a unique feature in the LEAF which is that it allows remote activation of the air conditioning unit and even set charging functions through a mobile phone.

Though this may be present in other vehicles, the LEAF can do this even if it is powered down. It also allows the vehicle’s battery to be recharged at a pre-set time with the remote-controlled timer inside. Pertinent info like the current power remaining or the reachable area is displayed on the monitor mounted on its dashboard. It can even show a choice of charging stations with a particular area.

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