Remember the stock Nissan LEAF that was planning to take on the grueling Pike’s Peak Hill Climb? Well, it may not have had much competition this year to become the Electric Production Class’s first champion (just one EV from AC Propulsion), but it did beat several highly modified combustion-engined competitors to the summit. The key was in the LEAF’s immediate torque, which all electric vehicles have on tap at all speeds, and the consistency of the electric motor at high altitudes, which robs traditional engines of 30% of their power.
“The LEAF was great fun to drive up the mountain” said LEAF driver and veteran Nissan off-road truck racing champion Chad Hord. “With the instant torque from the electric motor we were able to jump out of the many slow corners and the performance was very consistent from the bottom to the top since the electric motor wasn’t affected by the high altitude near the summit like the gasoline powered cars.”
The LEAF completed the 12.42-mile run with a time of 14 minutes 33 seconds. The vehicle was so quiet during its ascent–with the exception of squealing tires–that it was equipped with a high-speed warning beep to alert spectators and race workers of its approach. We can’t wait to see what new EVs this entry will encourage in next year’s Pike’s Peak race. Expect stronger electric competitors with beefed up suspensions to bring some real competition to the engined entrants in 2012.