22 Nisan 2011 Cuma

New York 2011: Nissan's Leaf Nismo RC ready to jolt motorsports world?

Countless auto industry pundits have suggested that there would be no better way to accelerate the development of EV technologies than for someone with the wherewithal to organize a racing series just for electric cars.

Nissan appears to agree with that strategy, having just unveiled its Leaf Nismo RC (Racing Competition) concept here at the New York Auto Show. The juiced-up hatchback has lost a couple of doors and nearly four inches out of its wheelbase in the transition to competition spec, but it's a whopping 6.7-inches wider and nearly an inch longer – proportions that are exaggerated by its minimal ground clearance of 2.4 inches. With its carbon fiber body shot in special white paint, the Nismo RC ends up looking a bit like a really, really angry vacuum cleaner, and that's just fine by us. All-in, Nissan says the motorsports special weighs just 2,068 pounds – around 40 percent lighter than your garden-variety Leaf.

The Nismo RC rolls up to the starting line packing 107 horsepower and 207 pound-feet of torque, and its lithium-ion pack can reach an 80 percent charge state in just 30 minutes. Still, if the Leaf is ever to be raced, we're thinking that some sort of swappable battery solution will have to be developed; otherwise pit stops are going to be rather leisurely.

Despite its menacing appearance and real racecar engineering, Nissan says its top speed is just 93 mph and its battery would likely only last about 20 minutes in competition. In other words, while this is a promising start, we don't see the Nismo RC spawning its own race series just yet.

Nissan Leaf Nismo RC
Nissan Leaf Nismo RC concept – Click above for high-res image gallery