Theoretically, you can turn any car into a rally machine, capable of blasting across all manner of terrain at high speeds. But… a Nissan Leaf?
Chris Ramsey, an EV advocate who goes by the name of Plug In Adventures, is responsible for the Nissan Leaf AT-EV (all-terrain electric vehicle), a Leaf built specifically for rallying. Later this year, it will drive 10,000 miles from the UK to Mongolia as part of the Mongol Rally. It’ll be the first EV to compete in this rally.
Since it’s not a timed rally, there’s no crazy-powerful electric drivetrain modification or anything like that. Its primary modifications include new wheels and narrower tires, steel brake lines, mud flaps, a sump guard and a roof rack with LEDs. There are also some plates welded underneath to help protect components.
Inside, a small number of tweaks focused on shedding weight. The rear seats and seatbelts are gone, and in the trunk is both a fire extinguisher and medical kit. The front portion of the passenger compartment is unchanged from a stock Nissan Leaf, aside from some rubber floor mats to keep the carpet clean. Overall, the interior shed about 71 pounds.
Ramsey will make regular stops along the 10,000-mile route in order to talk to locals about the benefits of going electric. Charging will present a problem as he moves east, because the availability of chargers will slowly drop, but rallies are all about withstanding serious challenges, and Ramsey doesn’t seem too concerned.
“This journey is about the travel experience, though — not reaching the destination in a fast time,” said Ramsey in a statement. “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.”