Nissan has big plans for the still-budding Leaf. The Japanese automaker lit up its impressive Leaf-powered Smart House at the Tokyo Motor Show last week, but also demoed its wireless charging solution for a much smaller crowd at the company’s Oppama factory. The device uses electromagnetic induction to transfer power between a charging pad and a receiver on the bottom of the car, with an efficiency level between 80 and 90 percent — simply park your EV directly above the system to begin charging, and monitor progress on the ground transmission unit’s control panel. The pad is expected to become available as soon as 2013, but will only be compatible with new vehicles, so you won’t be able to use it with an older Leaf, unfortunately. There’s a silent demo video waiting for you just past the break.
Electric vehicles may have that instant torque thing going for them, but they’re still a bit behind when it comes to giving heart palpitations to those diehard petrolheads. Hoping to change that perception, Nissan is setting up to unveil a brand new concept vehicle, dubbed the Leaf Nismo RC (that stands for Racing Competition, not “radio-controlled”), which strips the one-size-fits-all Leaf down to its constituent elements. The drivetrain is still 100 percent electric, however it’s now powering the rear wheels instead of the front, while things like the rear seats, trunk, audio system, carpeting, and navigation have been completely removed. A carbon fiber chassis helps the Nismo RC keep weight down to 2,068 pounds (938kg), equivalent to just 60 percent of the original Leaf’s heft. Yes, the Leaf is now lighter! In performance terms, you’re looking at a car that can hit 62mph within 6.85 seconds, max out the speedometer at 93mph, and last a terrifying 20 minutes under racing conditions. This prototype vehicle will debut at the upcoming New York Auto Show and will thereafter help Nissan research better aerodynamics and, presumably, slightly better energy efficiency.
Not the jolliest of news if you were waiting on a fresh new Leaf EV to blow in any time soon, as Nissan has had to understandably delay shipments as a result of the natural disaster that has befallen Japan. Updates on when customers might expect their orders to be completed will be forthcoming as soon as available. There are happier developments on the isle of Japan itself, however, where Nissan is resuming limited operations at five plants today and expects to be producing vehicles again by Thursday, which will last as long as supplies do. Sony has also shaken off some of the effects of the recent earthquake and says it’ll restart production of lithium-ion batteries at its Tochigi prefecture plant tomorrow. So, encouraging signs ahead for Japan’s industry, let’s hope everyone else’s recovery proves to be as swift.