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Nissan Leaf: Electric Car Will Drive Backward, Hoping To Break Speed Record

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By EarthTechling's Paul Willis:

It could end up being about the most ambitious reverse park you’ve ever seen.

A driver of a Nissan Leaf is going to attempt to set a new world speed record, but in reverse. The all-electric car will travel backward up a 1.16-mile hill climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the U.K.

According to Nissan, the car’s direct drive from the electric motor to its wheels should mean that the Leaf can go just as fast backward as traveling forward.

The carmaker says the Leaf is kept very stable at speed because the location of its batteries under the floor of the vehicle gives it low center of gravity, reducing the risk of roll under cornering.

Professional stunt driver Terry Grant will be at the helm for the attempt to set a new Guinness World Record for the fastest time over a distance of one mile in reverse. Last year Grant appeared at the Festival of Speed in a Nissan Juke, riding the car up the hill climb on two wheels.

“The Leaf Reverse Record isn’t going to be easy and will be very challenging,” Terry said in a statement. “I’d prefer to do it on a nice straight and level strip of tarmac rather than on Lord March’s drive. The hill not only climbs, but is also full of twists, turns and obstacles.

“It’s a hugely technical test of speed and concentration. Whatever happens, I know I’m going to finish the weekend with a serious crick in my neck!”

The record attempt is part of a social media-driven campaign by the Japanese car maker called The Big Turn On, which is spreading the EV message across Europe by highlighting the fact that electric vehicles can be fun to drive as well as environmentally friendly.

Nissan has invested a lot of time and energy promoting the Leaf, which is the company’s flagship EV.

The Leaf is the first mass-produced electric car sold in the U.S. and has reasonably done well, considering the niche market EVs currently still occupy. This time last year, Nissan had sold 1,708 units of this car in the month of June. In the first half of this year the car maker sold 3,875 Leafs. That’s over 1,000 units more than General Motors’ sales for its Chevy Volt over the same period.

The Leaf has had particular success in Norway where a total of 1,000 units were shifted over a six-month period, claiming almost 2 percent of the country’s car market in February this year.

Nissan are also building a Leaf factory in Smyrna, Tenn., which is scheduled to begin production this year. Once online, that manufacturing plant is expected to produce up to 150,000 vehicles and 200,000 battery packs annually. The plant, which is expected to create up to 1,300 jobs, is being retooled with a $1.4 billion loan granted by the U.S. Department of Energy.

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