The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC — short for Racing Competition — prototype debuted Sunday, ahead of the 2011 New York Auto Show, with aspirations to be the star of green motorsports. Perhaps its greatest significance is the use of the Leaf nameplate to extend the brand far beyond everyday driving.
“The Nissan Leaf Nismo RC will serve as a rolling laboratory for the accelerated development of EV and aerodynamic systems, as well as a platform for the development of new green motorsports series,” said Carlos Tavares, the chairman of Nissan Americas in a statement.
Nissan says the prototype will make a series of “special demonstration appearances” at unnamed motorsports venues in 2011 “with the company exploring pioneer zero emission competition spec series in future years.”
Nissan says in preliminary testing the Nismo RC sprints from zero-62 mph in 6.85 seconds and has a top speed of 93 mph. It is projected to have a running time of around 20 minutes under racing conditions.
The family resemblance to the production Leaf is faint. The race car sits more than a foot lower than the production vehicle and has been stripped of its rear seat, trunk, audio system, navigation system, carpeting and other amenities.
The Nismo RC features full carbon-fiber monocoque bodywork, special four-coat Pearl White paint with blue graphics, and 18-inch six-spoke wheels. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery and an 80kW motor that generates 107 horsepower.
“Unlike other competition vehicles, the Nismo RC has no tailpipe, no emission of CO2 or other greenhouse gases while being driven, and no exhaust sound,” said Nissan.