Nissan is currently competing on the FIA Formula E circuit, a motorsports class devoted to electric-powered vehicles. Nissan’s participation is a world-first for a Japanese carmaker and a way to highlight Nissan Intelligent Mobility. As part of Formula E, Nissan will develop a new electric racing car, the LEAF NISMO RC, which will incorporate racing technologies from NISMO, Nissan’s motorsports arm.
Recently, a test drive was held at Oiso Long Beach for motoring journalists and other media. We spoke with the head of the team in charge of developing the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC, NISMO COO Motohiro Matsumura, racing driver Tsugio Matsuda, who also works as a development driver, and motoring journalist Manabu Kawaguchi.
“We have achieved incredible acceleration with two motors applying torque to all four wheels and a lightweight frame.”
– NISMO COO Motohiro Matsumura
I was involved in the development of the first-generation Nissan LEAF. Thanks to the electric motor, EVs are distinguished by their fine-tuned steering and maneuverability.
From a standing start, they also benefit from maximum torque that is well ahead of internal combustion engine-driven cars, resulting in an unparalleled sense of acceleration. Many drivers are having fun getting around town in their Nissan LEAFs and Note e-Powers.
Yet no matter how well they perform, few people have an image of EVs as sporty. The Nissan LEAF NISMO RC represents an attempt to build the sportiest possible concept using the mass-market Nissan LEAF battery and motor.
It is the embodiment of the appeal of Nissan Intelligent Mobility. Going forward, we hope to see motor sports using EVs to become more popular, but it requires base car for regulating the new EV category. I believe that the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC will fulfill that role.
The first-generation Nissan LEAF NISMO RC was a rear-wheel drive, mid-engine sports car with a single motor, but the second-generation model has two motors and four-wheel drive, giving it twice the output of the original at 240Kw and 640Nm of torque.
A key issue facing EVs is the weight of the battery, but by limiting the overall weight of the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC to 1,220kg, 0 to 100km/h acceleration is around 50 percent faster than the first-generation model at 3.4 seconds. This is proof that achieving a lighter chassis radically improves EV performance. The EV revolution will be upon us once there is a technological breakthrough on lighter batteries.
We currently have two of the cars in Japan /Asia, two in Europe and two in the United States, where we hope they will demonstrate the sporty appeal of EVs. To spread Nissan Intelligent Mobility widely to our customers, there are things that only NISMO, with its focus on motorsports, can achieve.