Monday, September 10, 2012

Nissan LEAF NISMO RC takes second to Tesla Roadster in JEVRA 50km electric car race at Japan's Sportsland Sugo

The Japan Electric Racing Vehicle Association recently held an electric car race at Japan's Sportsland Sugo race track.  Going by their website they've held several races this year.  For the first time, on the Sept 4 race, Nissan's LEAF NISMO RC team came to the race for it's first official electric car race.  Judging by the video the racing grid included two Tesla Roadsters, the LEAF NISMO RC, three or four other normal Leaf's and an EV conversion.

The video below shows the event from Nissan's perspective.  At the beginning they explain the LEAF NISMO RC uses the stock Nissan Leaf drive train, but in a different arrangement.  Rather than driving the front wheels, it's driving the rear, and the battery/inverter/controller are located midship for better handling.

The team had wanted badly to beat the Tesla Roadster, but came in second after the Roadster's performance was more than they thought it would be.  The LEAF NISMO RC is lighter and more nimble, and according to the driver has better handling, letting him get ahead of the Roadster in corners.  But as soon as they came out of the corner into the straight, the Roadster would zoom ahead because of the higher power.

On the other hand, the Roadster has a well known problem with overheating.  At the REFUEL races we see Roadsters go into overheating after two laps.  The Roadster driver clearly has enough battery capacity to go for a long race, but has to manage heat in the drive train.  The LEAF NISMO RC driver has to manage battery capacity, and judging by the discussion he had to drive conservatively for all but the last lap to preserve kwh's to make a last spurt to attempt to take the lead.  That's why his last lap was so much faster.

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