Nissan Unveils LEAF Truck (Images + Video)

3 years ago by Eric Loveday 48

The future of electric trucking has arrived in the form of this Nissan LEAF pickup:

“If necessity is the mother of invention, engineers fuel that fire at Nissan’s Technical Center in Stanfield, Arizona. Here engineers are plentiful. They love to build things, test things and tinker with things. This team thinks a lot about “why not?” Recently they created a one-of-a-kind electric vehicle to haul supplies and people around on the tech center property. This is Sparky as he’s known around the campus. It is a Nissan LEAF crossed with a Nissan Frontier, brought to life by Nissan’s Roland Schellenberg and Arnold Moulinet.”

Now it’s time to convince Nissan to put this electric truck into production.

Nissan LEAF Truck

Nissan LEAF Truck

Nissan LEAF Truck

Nissan LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

LEAF Truck

Press release below:

Nissan engineers marry a LEAF to a Frontier for use around the shop

STANFIELD, Ariz. – If necessity is the mother of invention, engineers fuel that fire at Nissan’s Technical Center in Stanfield, Arizona. Here engineers are plentiful. They love to build things, test things and tinker with things. This team thinks a lot about “why not?” Recently they created a one-of-a-kind electric vehicle to haul supplies and people around on the tech center property.

“We tried to keep it a secret and be exciting for everybody. But we have visitors and they come and they see that truck and they go straight to ‘what is it?’ and they start looking at it, and it makes great conversation,” said Roland Schellenberg, Nissan Durability & Reliability.

This is Sparky, as he’s known around the campus. It is a Nissan LEAF crossed with a Nissan Frontier, brought to life by Nissan’s Roland Schellenberg and Arnold Moulinet. Sparky is a one-of-a-kind creation with a specific mission in life. He supports operations at Nissan’s proving grounds located on 3,050 acres in Stanfield, Arizona.

“I needed a project for a team building activity so we can bring the team together. We had a need for a truck. Something to drive around, a shop truck,” said Schellenberg.

It was months in the making, and there were many considerations, but Arnold Moulinet, Schellenberg’s colleague in the Durability & Reliability group, had the right tool-set to fabricate the vehicle into reality.

“After he (Schellenberg) told us it was going to be the LEAF that we would redo, I went home and stayed up till like four in the morning making all kinds of designs for what would work. We basically got the stock LEAF, and after reviewing a bunch of designs of pickup trucks that we have here at Nissan, we decided to go with a Frontier bed. My main job here is working on rough-road vehicles, rough-road testing. I’m pretty good at taking cars completely apart to the bare frame and putting them back together again to resume testing,” said Moulinet.

The low-desert terrain at Nissan’s technical center provides an ideal environment to test vehicles for hot weather, heat durability, engine cooling and air conditioner performance. There is also a 5.7-mile high-speed oval and four individual road courses designed to test vehicle durability, reliability and ride comfort. Sparky now is part of the support team to help operations run smoothly.

“Being a slick truck, and not so tough, I see it as a boy – but a boy with a heart. It’s something that we all put together. We all share. So it has a little bit of everybody in there,” said Schellenberg.

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48 responses to "Nissan Unveils LEAF Truck (Images + Video)"

  1. IDK says:

    “A” for effort but “F” for bad design. That this is really ugly. I bet Tesla’s electric truck (once revealed and produced) will look and be way more functional then that thing.

    1. David Murray says:

      I dunno… I think it looks pretty cool myself.

      1. Jouni Valkonen says:

        perhaps rather pretty cute is better word 🙂

    2. scottf200 says:

      I think it looks better as a truck than a car. Not a fan of the car’s looks at all.

      1. Rick says:

        Agreed, Scott. And it’s still ugly. But kinda fun for a one off project.

    3. Just_Chris says:

      Oh gosh I wish I had a good looking truck.

      WTF? its a truck a vehicle for a job and yes Tesla will make a good looking tuck that does 200miles+ and will cost double what this would cost.

      This vehicle would be great for airports, large warehouses, municipal gardening, etc.

      very good idea, build for a need not a market if only this approach wasn’t used more often.

      1. Just_Chris says:

        and now written in a way that can be understood by others:

        Oh gosh I wish I had a good looking truck.

        WTF? its a truck, a vehicle for a job. Yes Tesla will make a good looking tuck that does 200miles+ and will cost double what this would cost for people who think a truck is a lifestyle choice not a mode of transport.

        This vehicle would be great for airports, large warehouses, municipal gardening, etc.

        very good idea, build for a need not a “market”. If only this approach was used more often.

    4. doudis2 says:

      +100 FUGLY

    5. jstack6 says:

      They did a good job. It’s a great idea. I be Nissan could sell a lot of these.

      A friend took his Prius and did the same idea after a tree fell on it. It’s a PriUP now and very handy. He also made it a plugin Prius so it gets over 100 MPGe.

  2. Brian says:

    That is the ugliest truck I have ever since. Incidentally, it was created out of the ugliest car I’ve ever owned.

    Nissan’s powertrain engineers may be great, but they need to hire some better designers.

    1. Bill Howland says:

      Watching the video, I think the skinny guy did all the work. It was instructive in that it pretty much shows what any ChopShop can do.

      Not the prettiest truck in the world, but along the lines of those El Caminos that were picup-ized chevelles.

      I wonder if some chopshop is going to take an ev and make it into a different model. THe manufacturers don’t seem to have much imagaination this way.

      1. Brian says:

        My father-in-law is into those chop-shop TV shows where they actually show them breaking down the car and rebuilding it. I bet if they had recorded this effort, it would have been a very interesting episode to watch.

        We need more of these aftermarket conversions of EVs into something new. This really sparks passion in car people, to see someone taking a vehicle and re-purposing it to something else.

        I also wish that automakers would give us a EV pickup, like the Ford Ranger EV of the 90s. I would find that very useful to haul stuff like mulch, lumber, stones, etc for use around the home. I could also use it to haul my boat up to the lake.

        All that said, I still think this thing is ugly.

  3. Me says:

    Why? The regular version with a hatch and seats down offers pretty much the same cargo space and you get to keep seating for 5.

    The whole point of a truck is to carry things that you couldn’t carry in a hatch like sheetrock. This bed is too small to do that so what’s the point? Sacrifice the back seats so that one time you can move that small IKEA dresser?

    Apparently this just fills the need for some people to own a “truck” even though they don’t really have a need for a truck.

    1. Paul Reed says:

      Hay Me, many people buy huge trucks and never haul anything more than a sack or two of groceries in back. These guys are shown in the picture haulin a huge wheel around in that ugly lil truck. Let’s give’em some credit here for at least making it look useful!

    2. Alonso Perez says:

      You would carry stuff that is too dirty or heavy for a car interior. This is a Nissan center, so you figure they might be moving things like transmisions, engine blocks, all kinds of dirty, oily material you would not want inside a car.

      The design loses points by keeping the existing very rounded and inclined tailgate, which robs a lot of space. They should have borrowed/adapted a straighter one from a different vehicle, as well as the tail lights, rear bumper, etc.

      That said, I don’t think this is a design proposal at all. It’s just a utility vehicle they made for themselves with minimum effort, and for that it’s not too bad.

      1. See Through says:

        Lok slike they just cut the top of Leaf, an dmoved the seats out. Makes sense for Nissan factory. But no one will buy exactly this design of Nissan Leaf truck.

        – The truck needs to be much longer with lot more space
        – Needs to be way more powerful
        – Better couple with gas to make it plug-in hybrid, so more power can be generated when needed.

  4. Paul Reed says:

    The votes are in and it’s unanimous!!! That’s one heck of an ugly lil truck…now of you want a real snazzy design just let me know as I’m an excellent car designer…I give an A for effort as it’s a great idea but a F for fail as it looks ugly as sin…I have an excellent design in mind and have been seriously looking at cars and trucks at my families auto wrecking yard since 1965 so I have been looking for a long time! I posted the info for my Facebook page and you can contact me there or text PReed to 71441 for my ecard. Have a nice day!

  5. MDEV says:

    Useless what can you possible carry on that truck.

    1. FSJ says:

      Yeah, I like the picture showing that a single wheel is the only thing you can fit in the back. Why do they spend time and money on this S#!t instead of giving us the more range we have been clamoring about for years?

      1. Anon says:

        Because making a truck-like object, is easier…

  6. Joachim says:

    Its the most beauty leaf i ever seen ,
    And it is perfect for surfers, so 10 points to,the diseigners.
    Nice design.

  7. With 51% of vehicles sold in US, there is real open market for a light BEV utility truck.

    This LEAF conversion while enthusiastically done, lacks a useful loading gate. It keeps too much of LEAF style rear-end without enought emphasis on being a pragmatic truck. A conversion based on eNV-200 would have resulted on a more useful bed.

    There was a period of small pickup trucks in 1980’s like S-10, Ford Explorer, and Datsun’s that were very utilitarian. This was before the era of monster trucks that exploded in size in the late 1990’s. An all-electric truck of this size would be very useful in many a work environment.

    1. Just_Chris says:

      +1

    2. Raymondjram says:

      Ford had a BEV Ranger and Chevy had a BEV S-10 years ago. Some are still on the road, but both used lead-acid batteries. Both Ford and GM have newer BEVs with lithium-ion batteries, so they can revive the BEV pickup with their current models.

  8. DanCar says:

    What a beauty!

  9. David Murray says:

    It is amazing the number of negative comments about this. I think it looks great. Most trucks I see on the road look like they were designed to be battering rams or construction vehicles. This actually has some modern style to it. Granted the bed is small and probably can’t hold much. But I could certainly make use of it.

  10. Doug B says:

    Stretch the wheelbase a little to get a 6′ bed, and it would be a great replacement for the old Nissan XE pickup. With the flat bed, bet they could fit extra batteries below.

  11. Mark C says:

    In the 70’s, some folks converted Pinto’s & Vega’s to “El Camino’s” too. Then Dodge made the Rampage for couple years. It fizzled quickly as the bed was too small to carry much of anything.

  12. EV says:

    god no

    kill it and dont let it breed

    1. Just_Chris says:

      Too late, the cherry red workman already has a pale skinned partner, go forth an multiply!

      Although the offspring would be pink.

  13. Anon says:

    I’m sure this franken-BEV is fine for the singular environment and tiny payloads it was designed and built for…

    That said, dear Nissan: Please do NOT replicate it and sell it globally. We’re trying to PROMOTE BEVs, not kill the movement towards more sustainable and desirable automobiles.

  14. JRMW says:

    My first thought was: “My god, who knew they could make the LEAF uglier?!”

    Then I looked at it again. And you know what? I think they have somehow made it so ugly that it has wrapped around the spectrum back to cute!

    The LEAF is the ugliest thing ever produced on Earth. No redeeming beauty qualities.

    The LEAFtruck on the other hand, has a certain je ne sais quoi.

    ===
    ON a side note:
    this whole escapade shows that people really do want more choice than just tiny commuter car or hatchback.

    They really do want trucks and SUVs and CUVs and so on.

  15. GeorgeS says:

    There ain’t not one gun toten hillbilly in Arizona that’s a gonna get caught dead in that there pick’ em up truck.

    1. Brian says:

      The typical truck in Arizona has tires that are taller than this truck.

      Hey, that’s an interesting idea, create a “Monster Leaf” to compete with “Bigfoot 20”.

      1. GeorgeS says:

        Geez Brian,
        That was great.
        I can’t stop laughing.
        I love it.

        Think of the savings in the total cost of ownership!! 🙂

        1. Raymondjram says:

          The best part of that Electric Bigfoot is no gas and little noise, so you can actually listen to the crushing sound better.

  16. Rick says:

    Any ideas for what they should name a LEAF truck? I’d say “Trunk”

    1. JRMW says:

      Since it’s a chopped off LEAF mini-truck, I vote for:

      Leaflet.

    2. Anon says:

      Luck? How about Leauck? 😉

    3. Brian says:

      What about “LECK”? That’s about what I wanted to say when I first saw it.

    4. Just_Chris says:

      how about Branch, Bark or Twig?

      1. Stuart22 says:

        My vote is down for ‘Dryrot’

  17. Jimmy says:

    First, they ruin a Nissan Murano by making it a convertible – which you can actually buy. And now they are cutting up a Leaf, sheesh. How about putting some of that R&D into EV or battery technology.

  18. Fabian says:

    I like it!

  19. jerryd says:

    Nice idea we really need but just too small a bed.
    Stretch it 2′ and make the bed 4’2” wide and it would be a great EV for many.
    As would a 1 box Van built on it as we need a small EV van too.
    No I’m not fond of the one they are bringing out as too big for most thought find for big families, business.

  20. Raymondjram says:

    If Nissan can make a truck out of a Leaf, where are the true American fabricators, and when will they make a truck out of the Chevy Volt or the Ford ELectric Focus? We need an BEV Colorado, and the return of the BEV Ranger.