• Jun 29, 2011
Nissan Leaf at Laguna Seca – Click above to watch video after the jump

In late June, a stock Nissan Leaf piloted by veteran racer Chad Hord entered the history books by completing the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in 14 minutes 33 seconds. While the 12.42-mile course up the Peak is challenging, so to are the twists and turns at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

It's not often that a Nissan Leaf laps Laguna Seca, but at the Refuel Clean Power Motorsports Event at Laguna Seca on June 26th, at least one Leaf took to the track. Driven by a member of the My Nissan Leaf forum, the unmodified Leaf lapped the track in 2 minutes 10 seconds. For comparison, a stock Tesla Roadster completed the task in 1 minute 50 seconds.

This might put to rest lingering concerns over the Leaf's so-called "primitive" battery pack. The My Nissan Leaf forum member said that:
The Leaf drivetrain, battery and battery management system are solid. To my surprise, almost every other electric vehicle out there had heat management issues after two to five laps. Tesla's were hitting power cut by laps four to five. Most of the other kit cars could do one or two laps due to heat or range issues. Conversely, the Leaf was pulling strong all day and the battery temp gauge didn't move.
Hit the jump to watch the Nissan Leaf turn some laps at Laguna Seca

[Source: My Nissan Leaf forum via All Cars Electric]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 17 Comments
      lne937s
      • 3 Years Ago
      Just goes to show that liquid cooling alone does not make an battery pack advanced. More advanced battery chemistry overcomes much of the need for liquid cooling traditionally needed with more primative cells. I'm pretty sure I could put together a liquid cooling system, but I think it would be quite a bit more difficult to engineer more stable battery cells.
      HVH20
      • 3 Years Ago
      I doubt it was the battery packs overheating in the kit cars. Mostly likely it was the motor controller. A lot of them run brushed dc motors at lower voltages and really high currents.
        JakeY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @HVH20
        Yep. The Tesla PEM and motor are the first to overheat, precisely because they are air cooled (Model S is switching to a water cooled system). Very rarely does the battery overheat. It's also likely the people were running the cars in performance mode, which allows both to get a bit hotter.
      Rotation
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's controller and motor heat that is the biggest issue during driving. Pack heat is a problem when it's hot outside and is exacerbated when charging. Besides, the potential heat issue with the "primitive" Leaf pack that worries me isn't lack of power, it's premature pack aging.
      letstakeawalk
      • 3 Years Ago
      "Tesla's were hitting power cut by laps four to five." They might want to be careful making claims about the Tesla Roadster's performance issues. Musk gets kind of sue happy...
        JakeY
        • 3 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        There's no such thing as a "Race" version of the Tesla. The article mentions only stock Teslas were there. So the closest thing would be the Sport version. But only the difference on the Sport version is hand wound motors with more power; it can still overheat because it is still air cooled.
          letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          "There's no such thing as a "Race" version of the Tesla." Really? I could have sworn specially modified Roadsters (aka Tesla Roadster Race Cars) were used at this year's ROC. "The Tesla Roadster racing version received a rollcage, special signalized tow elements, and an electric circuit kill switch, while the driver and passenger seats were stripped out. A new driver’s seat made of carbon fiber was added to complete the interior." http://www.topspeed.com/cars/tesla/2011-tesla-roadster-race-car-ar101080.html But, I guess you're right. There's very little difference between a Roadster designed for racing, and what can be bought off the showroom floor. So - that means there still isn't a Roadster that's meant for track use?
          JakeY
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          "Really? I could have sworn specially modified Roadsters (aka Tesla Roadster Race Cars) were used at this year's ROC." I forgot about that event, but like the Leaf RC, even those Roadsters didn't have any drivetrain modifications that would change anything significantly (it didn't even have the drastic weight reduction and suspension changes the Leaf RC did). It only had changes that made it safe enough to be driven in that event. There's really no truly track ready Roadster and given production is ending soon, I expect it will stay that way until the next gen (when the liquid cooled motor from the Model S can be put to use).
          letstakeawalk
          • 3 Years Ago
          @JakeY
          "...even those Roadsters didn't have any drivetrain modifications that would change anything significantly (it didn't even have the drastic weight reduction and suspension changes the Leaf RC did). It only had changes that made it safe enough to be driven in that event." I agree. I asked the question because I wanted to know the answer, and when nobody could answer (you denied it even existed, thanks for the retraction) I googled it, which I should have done in the first place. We came to the same conclusion: "There's very little difference between a Roadster designed for racing, and what can be bought off the showroom floor. So - that means there still isn't a Roadster that's meant for track use?" "...those Roadsters didn't have any drivetrain modifications that would change anything significantly (it didn't even have the drastic weight reduction and suspension changes the Leaf RC did). It only had changes that made it safe enough to be driven in that event. There's really no truly track ready Roadster..." So, will any Roadster owner step up and do some serious mods? I'd love to see someone really attempt to show what the Roadster is potentially capable of!
        letstakeawalk
        • 3 Years Ago
        @letstakeawalk
        "I recall hearing Tesla folks saying that the Roadster isn't sold as a track car, and it isn't a great top speed car." I wonder who said that? "Discussing the topic with Tesla VP Darryl Siry during my first ride-along in the car, he made it clear that the Roadster in its current form wouldn't be very suitable for track use. The sustained loads on the electric motor in that kind of situation would cause the air-cooled unit to get too hot." http://green.autoblog.com/2008/01/28/revisiting-the-tesla-roadster-as-a-track-car-it-could-happen/ So, fair enough. Tesla execs have said that the Roadster (at least the original versions) aren't really up to track use. What mods are done for the Roadster Race versions, to beef them up for the abuse?
      David
      • 3 Years Ago
      "To infinity and beyond?" does that mean that he wasn't driving, but coasting with style? Sorry for that. I really like the Leaf and watching just about anything lap Seca is cool, but I really hope he is on Pixar's payroll or there was some kind of bet that went on before the race
      • 3 Years Ago
      Umm, no performance? You must have missed the article a little farther down about the Leaf running Pikes Peak where it states "Though the Leaf was virtually stock, it outgunned some competitors with modified internal combustion engines."
        Ernie Dunbar
        • 3 Years Ago
        I *seriously* question such claims made about the Pikes Peak run. I think we need to see video from the competing cars that lost out to the Leaf, considering that a Mini Cooper S beat the Leaf by a full minute. Its only modifications were for suspension and tires (and yes, I'm fully aware of how much a big deal that is on a twisty course like the PPIHC). I suspect that those turning in times greater than 14:22 were actually being too aggressive and totally blew one or more turns, rather than because their cars were more powerful than the Leaf. A great deal of the PPIHC comes down to driver skill, which has more to do with why the Leaf did as well as it did. Lighter, Slower cars do better on such courses than on courses that emphasize top speed like Daytona, because it's so difficult to reach the car's top speed.
      Dan Frederiksen
      • 3 Years Ago
      yes air cooling can work and is really the preferred method as you don't want water around high voltage. some battery types don't even need any cooling at all. even if you discharge them fully at 10C wrapped in insulation they don't get hot enough to need cooling. that said, it's easy for the Leaf to claim no cooling need seeing as it has no performance..
      • 3 Years Ago
      This bike was at the same event....moving somewhat faster: http://vimeo.com/25686996
      uncle_sam
      • 3 Years Ago
      So Nissan knows exactly what they are doing. unlike ze lazy germans. I'd really like more competition ^^
        budfox
        • 3 Years Ago
        @uncle_sam
        wow, how lame is that. even a traffic jam on the autobahn is more exciting.
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