It turns out that the introduction of the Leaf Nismo RC—an all-electric race car that was recently seen running demo laps at Le Mans—was just the start of Nissan’s efforts to electrify the world of motorsports: A production Nissan Leaf recently tackled the grueling Pikes Peak Hill Climb in Colorado and even set a new class record on its way. And while it’s true that the Leaf was the first, and is still the only, production EV to master the course’s 12.42 miles, 156 turns and 4,721-foot increase in elevation, the feat remains an impressive one. In fact, the Leaf’s time of 13 minutes and 17.55 seconds was faster than scores of gasoline-powered competitors.
“The Leaf was great fun to drive up the mountain” said its driver, Chad Hord, who also happens to be a veteran off-road racing champion for Nissan. “With the instant torque from the electric motor we were able to jump out of the many slow corners and the performance was very consistent from the bottom to the top since the electric motor wasn’t affected by the high altitude near the summit like the gasoline-powered cars.”
And remember: Except for safety modifications to the interior and a more aggressive wheel/tire setup, the record-breaking Leaf was just like the one already on sale in select markets across the country, where it’s also capable of achieving the equivalent of 106 mpg city/92 mpg highway/99 mpg combined, while delivering an EPA-certified all-electric driving range of 73 miles.
“The Nissan Leaf and Chad both performed flawlessly this week” said Ron Stukenberg, senior manager, Marketing Communications, Nissan Motorsports. “This was an innovative way to demonstrate that 100 percent electric vehicles perform very well in highly demanding situations like the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.”