Sunday, December 2, 2018

Turning over a new LEAF: Meet the Nissan NISMO electric race car that approaches the torque of Volkswagen’s record-shattering I.D.R. Pikes Peak

2019 Nissan LEAF NISMO RC
Photo: Nissan Media Newsroom.
2018 has been landmark year for the ascendancy of electric vehicles in the motorsports world, especially with Volkswagen’s triumph in shattering, in an electric race car, the previous all-time record in the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. Now, as we look ahead to a new year of motorsports, Nissan is reasserting its presence with the debut last week, at Nissan Crossing in Tokyo’s Ginza district, of the new all-electric Nissan LEAF NISMO RC, a product of the automaker’s racing arm.

The Nissan LEAF NISMO RC launch was part of the NISMO festival, an annual fan-appreciation event. Nissan says that the new LEAF NISMO RC, equipped with an all-wheel drive, dual-electric motor powertrain, produces a combined output of 240 kW and 640 nM of “instant torque.”

Equivalent to about 322 horsepower and 422 foot-pounds of torque, those numbers from the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC might not sound so astounding in a world that was recently introduced with much fanfare at the 2018 SEMA show to FCA’s gas-powered Hellephant Crate engine, a huge gas-powered package boasting 1,000 horsepower and 950 foot-pounds of torque.

And clearly the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC ain’t no Volkswagen I.D.R. Pikes Peak in the horsepower department—the electric racer that VW built produced more than twice the horsepower. But with electric cars, it’s important to realize that the instant torque at the wheel is where, quite literally, the rubber meets the road.

So it is indeed impressive that the racing version of the LEAF—which, after all, is built on the foundation of the powertrain components of the street version of the LEAF—produces 95 percent of the 670 foot-pounds of torque of the Volkswagen electric race car that destroyed the all-time record at Pikes Peak. And that was THE Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Record, period—across all vehicle types, including both electric and internal-combustion powertrains.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that the output of the electric powertrain in the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC is plenty of power for a vehicle that, due to its full carbon-fiber racing monocoque structure, weighs in at under 2,700 pounds.

As automotive journalists pointed out when the first Nissan LEAF NISMO RC was launched, this particular race car, in reality, be a lot more about showcasing the capabilities of electric vehicles to consumers who might be good candidates for purchasing the street version of the Nissan LEAF than about competitive racing itself—that’s what the Nissan Formula E is for. 

“The all-new LEAF NISMO RC shows how we’re setting our sights even higher when it comes to raw power and performance—making electric vehicles even more exciting for customers,” said Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci, Nissan’s global head of marketing, sales and electric vehicles. “It’s our most thrilling expression yet of the philosophy of Nissan Intelligent Mobility.”

It’s a show that Nissan has big plans to take on the road next year—they’re fixin’ to build six all-new LEAF NISMO RC vehicles to display at Formula E races other automotive shows and events worldwide.

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