Every year the steep countryside in the Rocky Mountains 10 miles west of Colorado Springs echoes with the roar of engines as entrants negotiate the treacherous switchbacks of the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. This year, however, a number of vehicles will be making the climb in near silence, including Nissan's all-electric LEAF. The LEAF's entry in the 89th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb marks the motorsport debut of the vehicle that, aside from the removal of a few interior parts to make way for safety equipment, will be very similar to the LEAFs that roll off the production line.
Competing in the Production Class for electric vehicles division that was introduced in 2010, the LEAF will be powered by the same lithium-ion battery pack composed of 48 modules and 80kW AC synchronous motor generating 107 hp and 207 lb-ft of torque that is found in the production model. Some of the production vehicle's interior parts, such as seats and carpets, have been removed to make room for safety equipment, namely a roll cage, racing seats and safety harnesses. Behind the wheel of the LEAF will be veteran Nissan off-road truck racing champion Chad Hord.
"This is another innovative way to showcase the fun-to-drive nature of the Nissan LEAF and highlight that 100 percent electric vehicles perform very well in demanding situations like the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb," said Ron Stukenberg, senior manager, Marketing Communications, Motorsports. "The instant torque available from the electric motor makes the LEAF a fun car to drive and the abundance of corners on the hill climb will give Chad a chance to take advantage of that torque."
With the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb that is set to kick off on June 26th, 2011. This motorsport debut will actually beat the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC, which was designed and constructed as a real racing machine, to the starting line. Nissan says that vehicle is likely to make a series of demonstration runs at various motorsports venues around the world later this year.