Electric vehicles are charging into motorsports without resistance. First the Formula E, then there’s the Electric GT, and now Nissan is foraying into Mogol Rally with its electric offering, the Leaf. Nissan is not a stranger to motorsport, but never before has the Japanese carmaker been plunged into rally stages with its vehicles. And now the specially prepped electric Leaf is going to take up the most gruelling adventure rally across Europe and Russia.
This ‘adventure’ rally is not about sleek, powerful cars. In fact the primary criterion is for the car to be small and not very well maintained, thus making the rally tougher. Given that, the electric Leaf isn’t the car that comes to mind as a weapon of choice to navigate a rally stage of 16,000km. But Chris Ramsey of Plug In Adventures, who’ll be behind the steering wheel, says ‘the Leaf is the perfect car to do this rally in’.
Based on the standard 30kWh Nissan LEAF Acenta, the rally prepped car is dubbed as Leaf AT-EV (All Terrain Electric Vehicle). There are no modifications to the powertrain, however, in order to make the puny EV survive the abuses of the pounding stages, the AT-EV Leaf is fitted with SL2 Marmora wheels wrapped around in Maxsport RB3 skinny tires. There are plates welded to the underside of the wishbones, along with braided brake lines, chunky mud flaps, and a 6mm aluminium sump guard. The rear seats have been ditched, saving almost 32kg, and making way for the fire extinguisher and medical kit. The roof rack is fitted with LED lights for night time thoroughfare. The modification is carried out by RML group, which is famous for doing crazy projects for Nissan.
The Leaf EV will be the first EV to participate in Mongol Rally when it flags off this July. With a daily average of 200-300km, the 250km claimed range of the EV doesn’t look to difficult, but finding charging point at each stop would be more challenging task than overcoming difficult terrain. Nissan is out testing the new generation Nissan Leaf already. Competing in this challenge as the first EV ever could be the last hurrah for the fairly successful Nissan Leaf.