What's Wrong With This Picture: Leaf It To The Tuners Edition

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer
what s wrong with this picture leaf it to the tuners edition

While Brabus digs deep for ideas to keep its tuning business relevant in the EV era, Nissan has a less sophisticated approach to electric car tuning: the bodykit. According to Nissan, the Nissan Leaf Aero Style Concept includes new wheels, skirts, mirrors, front bumper and LED daytime driving lights. Because, in the words of the firm’s press release:

Equipped with an aero body kit that accentuates Nissan LEAF’s distinctive silhouette and character lines, this concept car expresses an image of futuristic sport EV driving.

Emphasis on “image.” The rest of the EV tuning equation is still largely a mystery.

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  • Paul W Paul W on Dec 27, 2010

    "Emphasis on “image.”" Just like Volvo's R-series then.

  • Panzerfaust Panzerfaust on Dec 27, 2010

    Nissan has a less sophisticated approach than tuners? Didn't know that was possible. I always have taken "tuner' to be shorthand for 'spending a lot of perfectly good cash to ruin a perfectly good car.'

  • Healthy skeptic Healthy skeptic on Dec 27, 2010

    Okay, I've long been curious about something: We all know that ICE's are inherently inefficient, and that size matters for this. In other words, if you have one pickup truck powered by an economical V6, and another truck of the same model powered by a big honkin' V10, and both are cruising down the freeway at 65, the V6 is going to get much better gas milage than the V10, even though both are doing the same amount of work. The V10 will also cost a lot more and be more complex (4 extra cylinders for starters). But with an EV, all you're doing is putting in a bigger version of the same thing--an electric motor. Electric motors are extremely compact and lightweight to begin with, compared to an ICE of similar torque and power. And a more powerful motor still only has one moving part: the rotor. I can't imagine the cost would be much higher either. So why didn't Nissan put a more powerful motor into the Leaf? I'd think if you had a Leaf cruising down the freeway at 65, and another Leaf next to it with a 50% more powerful motor, I'd think they'd both be consuming about the same amount of energy, or the larger motor just slightly more. You'd still have about the same range, but much higher performance whenever you wanted or needed it. Are they holding back just to reign in drivers, because they fear aggressive driving would decrease the range? Or is my knowledge of physics off? And if they are holding back drivers, why not just give drivers the option of more power, and let them figure it out for themselves?

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    • MikePDX MikePDX on Dec 27, 2010

      Sure, you can put a bigger motor in an EV. The higher power requires a bigger controller, and probably higher-current batteries too. Upgrade the transaxle to handle the extra torque. The whole drive train must be scaled up. No different really than dropping a V8 in place of a six, bigger tranny, rear end, etc. Unlike combustion engines, a bigger electric drivetrain can be very nearly as efficient at lower power as the stock one. Why didn't Nissan do this? It costs more of course! Will there be a high performance Nissan EV someday? I think it's likely. Tuning a production EV will take cracking the software in the controller, and unfortunately that's a lot harder to come by than tuning the engines we're used to. The knowledge and skills are out there in the engineering world. We just had 11 students come through our new EV EE course sequence at Portland State. Any of them could develop EV tuning skills. We'll see production EV tuning given time. Or you could just drop in a whole new EV drivetrain of your own, like the electric racers do.

  • Ljmattox Ljmattox on Dec 29, 2010

    Hmmm, from ages-ago slot car experiences, one would think "rewinds": replacing armature wire with stouter stuff. But, as noted, such would increase power consumption, and probably significantly, or at least it did "back in the day" with our Mabuchi 16D and 26D's. Our local parlor resorted to [what looked like] scores of lead-acid batteries and chargers under the tracks to provide adequate power. Of course, now there's significant expertise in the electric R/C car hobby to tap into as well :-). Oh, and maybe a flux capacitor... Slot cars? Sure, here's a primer: http://www.scaleautoracing.com/slothistory/history.html