Nissan to show production-ready ESFLOW electric sports car in Geneva
By Mike Hanlon
February 9, 2011
With a track record including the time-honored Z series and the extraordinary GT-R supercar, Nissan’s credentials for producing affordable sports car exotica is without equal – which makes the company’s latest showing even more exciting. Nissan will use the Geneva Motor Show to debut an electric sports car based closely on technology pioneered in the production Nissan LEAF. The ESFLOW is a two-seater with its two electric motors each driving a rear wheel. It will hit 100km/h in under five seconds and run 240kms between powerpoints.
ESFLOW has been created by Nissan from scratch. Nissan's designers have been able to place the power train and batteries in the optimum positions to benefit the car's handling and performance. As the press materials stress, the ESFLOW is not an existing ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicle that has been adapted to run on electricity, but a sports car that's been designed from the outset as a Zero Emission vehicle.
The Car has a composite body and an aluminium chassis, incorporating its own roll cage. The aluminium chassis has been built around the drive train, taking full advantage of the opportunities that Zero Emission electric propulsion provides. Power cells are incorporated in such a way that they benefit ESFLOW's strength and poise, not detract from them. Indeed, unlike a conventional fuel tank, batteries do not get lighter as they provide energy, so the car's weight distribution remains constant throughout a drive.
Power for the motors comes from the same laminated lithium-ion battery packs used in the Nissan LEAF, but in ESFLOW the packs are located along the axis of the front and rear wheels. This centralizes the mass of the car, and thus its rotation point, close to the driver's hips.
The powertrain unit employs the same technologies as the Nissan LEAF, with the twin electric motors placed above the rear wheels in a mid-ship position. The motors independently control the left and right wheels, and so the torque is optimized to ensure outstanding vehicle stability and control as well as efficient power regeneration.
The high waistline afforded by the ESFLOW's classic sports car proportions allows strong, yet unobtrusive roll bars incorporated in to the structure behind the seats to safely take the entire load of the car in the event of a roll over, negating the need for obtrusive, thick, reinforced A-pillars and the blind spots they inevitably create.
Whereas the Nissan LEAF's protrusive headlights are used to guide airflow around the door mirrors, this is not needed on ESFLOW as the mirrors have been replaced with minute rear view cameras at the base of its A-pillars. The ESFLOW's front lights do protect a secret of their own however: flip out charging points built in to the air ducts beneath.
The cabin of the ESFLOW is clean and open and weight saving has been a priority throughout its design. By far the heaviest components in modern cars' interiors are the steel framed, thickly upholstered and increasingly motorized seats. In ESFLOW the seats are sculpted into the rear bulkhead of the car, negating the need for a heavy frame. This of course means that they are immobile, but this is of no consequence as the fly-by-wire steering and pedals adjust electrically to suit each driver's preferred driving position.