Nissan has called upon its motorsport division NISMO to help give its all-electric LEAF some racing cred. The result is the new LEAF NISMO RC, and despite the fact it's unlikely to be trading paint on the racetrack in the near future, Nissan says it's been designed and constructed as a real racing machine. By cutting the weight and giving it a new aerodynamic body the NISMO RC makes 0-100 km/h (62 mph) in 6.85 seconds on its way to a top speed of 150 km/h (93 mph).
Although it shares moniker and sports the same the same lithium-ion battery powertrain as the LEAF, that's pretty much where the similarities between the two vehicles end, with the NISMO RC doing away with the rear doors, rear seat, trunk, audio system, navigation, carpeting and other creature comforts found in its mass-produced cousin.
The LEAF NISMO RC – the RC stands for Racing Competition – boasts full carbon fiber monocoque three-piece bodywork that includes removable front and rear sections, LED headlights and taillights and driver-adjustable rear wing. Compared to the production LEAF, the NISMO features a 3.9-inch (9.9 cm) shorter wheelbase, is 0.8 inches (2 cm) longer, 6.7 inches (17 cm) wider, and comes in at around 40 percent lighter at 2,068 lb (938 kg). It also sits 13.8 inches (35 cm) lower, which limits ground clearance to 2.4 inches (6 cm) compared to the production LEAF's 6.3 inches (16 cm).
The NISMO RC also sees the battery pack, electric motor and inverter shifted to a mid-ship location, and is rear-wheel drive in contrast to the production LEAF's front-wheel drive. There's a double-wishbone suspension for both the front and rear, along with driver-adjustable brake balance and 18-inch 6-spoke wheels.
The NISMO RC retains the production LEAF's 48 module lithium-ion battery battery and an 80kW AC synchronous motor, which generates 107 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque.
Endurance races probably won't be the NISMO's forté, with Nissan projecting the vehicle will have a running time of around 20 minutes under racing conditions. The battery can be charged to 80 percent of capacity in 30 minutes using the quick charging port located inside the rear cowl.
Nissan says the LEAF NISMO RC is designed to serve as a rolling laboratory to aid in the development of EV and aerodynamic systems. The company also hopes the vehicle will act as a platform for the development of a future green motorsports series to draw attention to the potential of electric vehicles.
Nissan will debut the LEAF NISMO RC at the 2011 New York International Auto Show on April 20.