2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
Nissan converts the Leaf into a racing car. While the body of the electric car has been changed, the Nissan Leaf RC has the same technology as the production model.
By Benjamin Bessinger
No, what was just swept blue and flat across the field of vision was not a mirage. And it is okay that it is eerily quiet here at the Dubai Autodrome despite the ongoing racing operations. Because today there are no multi-cylinder petrol bolides on the desert course that sip on the Arabs' oil supplies. In the emirate, Nissan is currently testing the electric Leaf RC, which the Japanese believe is the harbinger of a new generation of sports cars.
Own e-racing series in big cities
"We wanted to prove that an electric car can also be fun and sexy," says Francois Crisias about the project, which is now over a year old. "That is why we unceremoniously sent the first mass-produced electric car suitable for everyday use to the racetrack." Nissan was not only interested in marketing and demonstrating what was feasible. "It could well be that a new category of motorsport will emerge from this," says Crisias.
A separate Nissan racing series is just as conceivable as a Formula E for various electric cars or a trophy that is advertised by a freelance promoter, explains the Frenchman. Crisias is convinced that there is great interest in this in the entire industry. "Because if all cars are electric, quiet and no longer emit pollutants, then motorsport can be brought back to the cities." No longer out in the country, but on courses in the middle of Paris, Barcelona, New York or Berlin can then be driven.
Nissan Leaf RC takes corners extremely agile
The Leaf RC would be ideally equipped for such city courses. Because the car is extremely manageable, can be easily circled through the bends with the accelerator and is especially convincing with its crazy acceleration. The top speed is 150 km / h only slightly above the Leaf and would not even elicit a yawn from Schumi & Co. But up to 50 km / h, the electric flounder can keep up with any super sports car, and 6.5 seconds to 100 km / h are not so bad for an eco-car either. This is why the hip flask sticks to the rear of the three times more powerful GT-R, which Nissan has sent ahead as a pace car, on routes with as few straights as possible and many tricky corners.
In terms of technology, the Leaf RC is not that far removed from the production car: "We wanted to demonstrate what the Leaf is capable of and that's why we adopted the drive unchanged," explains Crisias. The 109 hp motor and the 24 kWh lithium-ion batteries therefore have the normal configuration. This has the pleasant side effect of lower development costs. "The car has an insurance value of around 100,000 euros, many other studies are ten times more expensive," continues Crisias.
After 20 minutes, the Nissan Leaf RC has to be plugged in
But even if the motor and battery are from the series, there is no risk of confusion. Not only because the Leaf has mutated into a flattened winger with a carbon body for the racetrack, only carries two narrow bucket seats and has just lost 600 kilograms. But also because Nissan has completely turned the technology under the sheet metal: the motor now drives the rear axle from the rear and the batteries are no longer in the floor of the car, but as a large package behind the seats for better balance. So it's no wonder that everything is concentrated in the rear and that the Leaf is easier to circle through the narrow course than the 370Z or the GT-R.
But the frenzy shouldn't last long. There is indeed a quick charging station in the pit lane, where the Leaf can fill up within half an hour. But the car doesn't drive much longer. "It's over after 20 minutes of racing," admits Crisias. Then the electric racer may not need a tire change but a socket - and a correspondingly long pit stop.
Eight copies of the Nissan Leaf RC
Of course there is still a long way to go before a racing series starts. "But if you never start you will never achieve anything," said Crisias, reporting the lively interest shown by the promoters and intensive discussions with numerous cities, all of which are jealous of the races in Singapore and Monaco. "It is quite possible that completely new doors will soon open up for motorsport," says Crisias.
Incidentally, if the green light is given, things could happen pretty quickly: because where there is usually only one car from show cars and design studies, Nissan has already built eight of the Leaf RC cars. That would be enough for a small race on a tight track. (SP-X)