Ok, that's not really how this went, but it's fun to imagine it happening something like that. But there was a group of Spanish Nissan engineers that built a prototype Nissan Leaf, with Nissan's blessing, on their evenings and weekends. In the video, senior engineer Dario Fernandez revealed they worked on the car after hours for six months. And it was designed to compete in a special motorsports series called the ECOseries that focuses on efficiency and fuel economy.
The Leaf they built had a battery that was twice the size, both physically and by capacity, of the current 24 kWh Nissan Leaf S. Nissan claims this 48kWh battery provides 75 percent more range than an original Leaf. Since the original car had a range of about 84 miles, this would give this Leaf an estimated range of nearly 150 miles.
Fernandez revealed that they won their first efficiency race with the car. Though neither he nor Nissan revealed if they entered subsequent events, and if they did, how they fared. But it certainly seems the engineers enjoyed working on the project.
"We all have a real passion for what we do and being able to work on prototype projects gives us the creative freedom to be as innovative and forward-thinking as we possibly can," Fernandez said.
Gareth Dunsmore, director of electric vehicles for Nissan Europe, pointed out that this prototype won't be reaching production anytime soon. But he did mention that it's, "a useful exercise in thinking outside the box, something our engineers and designers do on a daily basis."
It would be easy to imagine Nissan taking information from this project for a future Leaf or other EVs. For instance, getting to around 150 miles would bring the Leaf closer to the ranges of the upcoming Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3, both of which claim at least 200 miles of range. Size would certainly be an obstacle for packaging the prototype's battery, but with more factory backing, that size could probably be brought down significantly. Good thing that's the sort of thing Nissan is already working on.