Electric vehicle advocate Plug In Adventures and Nissan have partnered with U.K.-based motorsport engineering company RML Group to modify the Japanese manufacturer’s vehicles to take part in a 16 000km rally this winter.
Although Nissan is no stranger to racing you won’t find many of its vehicles taking part in rallies – not in the WRC, nor in the Global or World Rallycross Championships neither. The hatchback that the Japanese automaker has entered into the Mongol Rally is the unlikely Nissan Leaf electric vehicle (EV).
The modified Leaf is known as the Leaf AT-EV (for All Terrain Electric Vehicle). The tweaking that took place to get this little EV rally ready include: raised suspension, the removal of rear seats, a reinforced undercarriage, braided brake lines, mudflaps, a 6mm front skid plateI and 16 4000 lumens worth of auxiliary lighting on the newly-added roof rack. It has also been kitted out with Speedline SL2 Marmora wheels shod with Maxsport RB3 rubber to replace the low-rolling resistance of the standard tyres.
Other than the above mods the the Leaf AT-EV is essentially the same vehicle as the ones you see on the street.
Chris Ramsey, founder of Plug In Adventures, said: “The Mongol Rally is our most challenging electric vehicle drive to date, but it’s one we’ve been planning for a number of years. Not only will we face a dwindling number of EV chargers the further east we go, the terrain also becomes more difficult to navigate.
“Using a Nissan LEAF for this was an obvious decision though. I’m very familiar with the car, it’s always been reliable and dependable for me, and it has the largest network of rapid charging options in Europe. As it will also accept a 240v Commando connection even in the remote areas when my fast-charge options are gone, I can still charge the battery and keep moving. This journey is about the travel experience though, not reaching the destination in a fast time. I can’t wait to get out on the road and introduce more people to the advantages of electric vehicles, whatever country they’re from!”
There is no detail about how the team plan to charge the car in the more remote portions of the journey.
Interestingly, entrants are required to drive a small, sub-1.0-liter car as organizers believe this will cause more breakdowns, forcing the drivers to interact with locals along the way. The Mongol Rally is not a timed event and there is no emergency or assistance vehicles during the rally, so participants are expected to be able to get themselves out of trouble if needed.