Stripped Nissan LEAF For VW Bus Conversion Has Model S Speed – Video

MAY 16 2016 BY JAY COLE 25

A common complaint among Nissan LEAF owners is that it just doesn’t have quite enough zip off the line, especially as compared to many of its all-electric peers.

Nissan LEAF, Now Well Under Its Factory 3,243 lb Weight

Nissan LEAF, Now Well Under Its Factory 3,243 lb Weight

Depending on the model year LEAF, 0-60 mph comes up in anywhere from 9 to 11 seconds (the older model year cars, build in Japan were/are faster).

But what if there was a way to make your Nissan LEAF Tesla Model S fast?  And best of all, that upgrade would set you back absolutely nothing?

Turns out, all you have to do is shed a pesky thousand pounds or so and you are there!

Who needs that exterior sheet metal or doors?  Totally overated.

The video (above) shows what an unburdened Nissan LEAF, and its 110 hp/210 lb ft of torque can do, as the car awaits being re-purposed into a pretty nifty 1966 VW bus conversion project by Tlbscustoms (today’s LEAF is rated at 107 hp/187 lb ft of torque).

Bonus footage (below):  the day before the Nissan LEAF was donated to the VW bus, it had an impromptu race against a Pro-Touring Mustang (from the 7:00 mark)

Hat tip to InsideEVs reader Alex!

Categories: Nissan, Tesla, Volkswagen

Tags: ,

Leave a Reply

25 Comments on "Stripped Nissan LEAF For VW Bus Conversion Has Model S Speed – Video"

newest oldest most voted

If 1000 lb is shed and 150 lb driver, 0-60 should be good for about 7.1 sec (10 sec * 2400/3400), bit quicker than SparkEV.

Shed all that weight & you should get a Nice Range Increase ! At least a 30% Plus Increase I would think…

The dramatic increase in aerodynamic drag from removing all those body parts to shed weight would significantly decrease the greater than 30% increase in range that you estimated.

Oops. Forgot about aero. Since Leaf slows down much earlier than SparkEV, it would spend more time at > 30 MPH longer. Then poor aero would make it even slower than simple F=ma. It might still be slower than SparkEV.

However, 0-30 is rated 3 sec for Leaf, so 1000 lb less would mean (3 * 2400/3400) = 2.1 sec! Tires won’t last 1000 miles if you drive it like that often.

Why should aerodynamic drag increase, the frontal area is much smaller without a windshield, why do you think they don’t use them at F1?

But even if it increases, rolling resistance should be a lot smaller and with a car like that you won’t drive at speeds where aero drag really matters.

Air drag comes from how much and far you move air.
An aero car gently moves the air sideways and then brings it back together.
That takes an aero shape that keeps air attached without breaking into diverging vortexes that go outward dragging huge amounts of air with it vastly increasing drag the no body Leaf will.
It will make 2.5-3x the drag vs one with an aero body.

But aero is increased due to air rushing into all those gaps, holes and sucking inside the vast interior space….

I think weight is the issue at hand here. And how cool to make a dragster out of old EV parts?

Rolling resistance force is roughly 1.5% of weight. I put bathroom scale against the bumper and push it constant speed on flat road and measure about 40 lb (out of 3000 lb). Then shedding 1000 lb only result in about 15 lb less force. That won’t get you much at 30 MPH+ when aero force is far more, especially with stripped Leaf.

Did we not have that LEAF NISMO RC? Basically a Leaf in a carbon fibre body. Did something ~6 seconds.

That may have been more powerful motor and/or more than 1000 lb less. Physics, energy is proportional to mass, and to reach kinetic energy at 60 MPH would be linear with respect to mass with same applied power.

Those doors must weigh a ton !

Could be a niche market waiting for the beach buggy EV !

Being a Leaf owner I’ve vot to admit that every gas car I see I imagine how much better it would be converted to eldctric ?

My 2012 Nissan Leaf went consistent 17.50s in the quarter mile at our local track. Very accurate racing calculators tell us that shaving a 1,000 pounds would bring us into the 15.50s. That’s alot faster than stock, but hardly in the league of a Model S or that fox body Mustang. A bone stock Mustang would be running in the 14s range. That weight loss does make the Leaf as fast as the 2600 pound Bmw i3 and a little faster than my 2008 Mini E electric that went consistent 15.9s at my local track.
Putting a Leaf drivetrain inside a shortened VW bus is just about the coolest thing you could have done with a Leaf though and i cant wait to see the finished product. Don’t go calling out and Teslas though. Stick to older Mustangs.


You sound like you know what you’re talking about. So you should know that the Leaf’s performance drops off quickly at higher speeds. A car that is quick at lower speeds can easily beat another car to 60MPH, yet still lose the quarter mile to that same car. I’m sure you’ve seen that more than once at the track – Car A darts out in front, but Car B overtakes it by the end.

I enjoyed reading your analysis. Just keep in mind that 0-60 and 1/4 mile are not the same test.

0-60 is also different from 0-30. In the video, Leaf is seen outrunning the Mustang. I suspect it’s due to phenomenal (!) 0-30 time of about 2.1 sec. See my comment above on math.

As for stripped Leaf’s 1/4 mile time, shedding 1000 lb would make power to weight ratio to be similar to SparkEV (22 lb/hp). SparkEV is under 16 sec 1/4 mile at 90 MPH (top speed of the car), but max speed is reached long before 1/4 mile. Stripped Leaf would suffer poor aero for far longer and could be much slower.

I was thinking about using a leaf donor car to make a 200 mile range fast EV in just 1300lbs with an aero sport van composite body and chassis.
I’m waiting for someone to hack the EV systems so all them can be used.

What do you mean by “aero sport van”? Something like a Brubaker Box from the ’70s?

Right now, I would want to do an EV conversion either of a 1st generation Lotus Europa, or a Mini-Marcos. But I’d pretty much have to live in Britain to make that work.

Super, exactly like a BrubakerBox, just a little more aero and gull wing doors.
I watched a 65 Mustang drive through a Europa back in 75.
Lucky for the driver it was just on the passenger side but was flattened badly there.
Mine are designed to be as good or better than present cars for crash protection.
For instance in the Mustang crash.mine would have just been pushed away instead of collapsing .
Looks like I just got an El Camino to copy so likely an all composite EV pick up coming late this year.

“Another one rides the bus!” Weird Al – (Yank a motor)! Great project and donor Leaf!

Also, for those of you wonder if there is anyplace in California where housing is cheap……

Pretty cool idea, .. unhandicapping a VW “short bus” with an electric drivetrain.

OMFG! Stabilize that video! When I see shaky video, I hear a “rumbling” sound in my ears that matches the shaking (even though I’m not listening to the video’s audio). When the video went to the stable part, it stopped. Wait… do I have synesthesia?

Wow, have some overhangs… the wheelbase of the new car looks to be about half the length of the vehicle!!!

To be fair, you’d need to strip 1,000 pounds from the older Mustang.