2011 New York Auto Show: Nissan Leaf Nismo RC

Article by Christian Andrei, on April 18, 2011

The Nissan Leaf NISMO RC will be flaunted at the 2011 New York International Auto Show, further emphasizing Nissan’s dedication to offering green vehicles. This is a prototype racecar that’s based on the production Leaf model. But the racecar version won’t have rear doors, rear seats, audio system, navigation, trunk, carpeting, or basically anything that’s not related to racing.

The NISMO RC has a carbonfibre monocoque bodywork that features removable front and rear sections, a set of LED headlights and taillights, fixed windows, and driver-adjustable rear wing.

The NISMO RC is 13.8 inches (35 cm) lower than the road model version and its ground clearance is limited to 2.4 inches (6.1 cm). When compared to the standard Leaf, the race version has a 3.9-inch (9.9 cm) shorter wheelbase, and it measures 0.8 inches (2 cm) longer and 6.7 (17 cm) inches wider compared to the production car.

Positioned at the middle of the car are the lithium-ion battery, electric motor and inverter. The AC synchronous motor has an output of 80kW (107 hp) and total torque of 207 lb-ft (280 Nm).

This power is sent to the rear-wheels through a front-wheel drive that’s similar to the production Leaf. In addition, the car has a total weight of 2,068 pounds (938 kg) – about 40% lighter than the standard model.

This car features a front and rear a double-wishbone suspension design and driver-adjustable brake balance. It rides on a set of 18-inch 6-spoke wheels that are covered in P225/40R18 Bridgestone racing tires. It can accelerate from a standstill to 62 mph (100 km/h) in 6.85 seconds, and it has a top speed of 93 mph (150 km/h). When performing in a race, it can reach a mileage sufficient for 20 minutes.

Looking at the back panel, the Nissan Leaf name is unmistakable. The same name can be seen under its massive and adjustable wing in the rear. Due to the use of a lithium-ion battery design (which is similar to the one inside the first mass marketed and affordable electric vehicle), the powertrain has zero emissions. The family resemblance is still present even if there are no rear seats, rear doors, carpeting, navigation, trunk, and audio system, to name a few. This is however where the similarities between the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC and the production version of the Leaf end.

The RC stands for “Racing Competition”, and this electric vehicle will be making its official world debut on April 20, during the 2011 New York International Auto Show. The brand reveals that the RC was built specifically to give new meaning to "Racing Green." Nissan is at present the world leader when it comes to production vehicles with zero emissions. The brand’s foray into zero emissions started with the launch of the Nissan Leaf during the late 2010 to the U.S., Japan, and Europe markets.

The brand is now focusing on the racing world in order to draw more attention to what it believes is the untapped potential of many electric vehicles. According to Nissan Americas Chairman Carlos Tavares, by combining the talents of the brand’s well-known motorsports groups Nismo with the of the engineers who were responsible for its FIA GT1 and Super GT racing teams, it was able to come out with the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC.

This racing car, he added, will function as the rolling laboratory that is aimed at accelerating the development of electric vehicles and its aerodynamic systems. It will also serve as the platform when it develops its green motorsports series, Chairman Tavares continued. This new EV is expected to make a number of special demonstration runs at different motorsports venues during 2011. The brand expects that in the future, it hopes to pioneer competition spec series cars with zero emissions.

Press Release

Nissan Leaf Nismo RC

The name on the back panel, just under the massive adjustable rear wing, says Nissan Leaf. The powertrain is an 100% zero emission advanced Lithium-ion battery design, just like that found on the world's first affordable mass market electric vehicle. And despite its lack of rear doors, rear seat, trunk, audio system, navigation, carpeting and other amenities, there is a discernable family resemblance. But that is where the similarities between the production Nissan Leaf and the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC end. As indicted by the "RC" - for Racing Competition - this new electric vehicle, which makes its world debut at the 2011 New York International Auto Show on April 20th, is purpose-built to bring new meaning to the term "Racing Green."

Already a world leader in zero emission production vehicles with the late 2010 launch of the Nissan Leaf passenger vehicle 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.

"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.

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.

A Serious Racing Machine

The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC is designed and constructed as a real racing machine, starting with its full carbon fiber monocoque bodywork. The three-piece bodywork includes removable front and rear sections, fixed windows, LED headlights and taillights and 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.

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. And, at 2,068 pounds, the race car weighs in at about 40 percent less than the production vehicle.

The layout of the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC is also markedly different from the production sedan, offering a mid-ship location for the battery pack, electric motor and inverter - with drive to the rear wheels versus the production Nissan Leaf's front-wheel drive. The Nismo RC also utilizes a double-wishbone suspension design front and rear and driver-adjustable brake balance. It rides on 18-inch 6-spoke wheels and P225/40R18 Bridgestone racing tires.

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. And unlike other competition vehicles, the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC has no tailpipe, no emission of CO2 or other greenhouse gases while being driven, and no exhaust sound.

In preliminary testing the Nissan Leaf 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 - which is certainly not the case with either the production Nissan Leaf or this electrifying Nissan Leaf Nismo RC," added 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."

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