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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Was it wheeling, dealing or just good car deals for Ohio State football players?



Was it wheeling, dealing or just good car deals for Ohio State football players?
by Hawke Fracassa

The Ohio State University football program is under scrutiny again. The latest irritation that has Ohio up in arms is the sale or loan of used cars from two dealerships at bargain prices to a few dozen football players and their families in the past six years.


Most of the cars were Chevrolets, Buicks and Dodges that were sold for an average price of under $12,000, according to a Columbus Dispatch report. Some of the cars had more than 100,000 miles on them.
The two auto dealerships in Columbus, where Ohio State is based, ostensibly gave deals to some but not all of the student-athletes and their kin.
The university is sorting out the possibilities of impropriety, but makes clear that to date nothing concrete has been found to support that concern.
Owners of the two dealerships and the account executive who handled the transactions for both of them deny anybody was given anything improperly.
The purchases that are under review are a big deal because under NCAA guidelines football players like the Buckeyes are not allowed to get special consideration and discounts that everyday students couldn't also get.
ESPN.com reports both auto dealerships have football memorabilia in their showrooms with autographs from some of the players.
One thing that has turned Columbus on its ear is the situation involving former Buckeye linebacker Thaddeus Gibson, who purchased a pre-owned Chrysler300C.
Gibson says he agreed to pay $13,700 for the car, according to The Dispatch investigation, but some documents uncovered by reporters say he paid nothing.
Gibson told the daily newspaper that he still makes payments on the 300C and the newspaper, since its initial report on Wednesday, has found that there are conflicting documents now available that make a case that Gibson has been making payments, ESPN.com says.
Documents cited by the newspaper and ESPN.com say Gibson bought the car in June 2007 and financed it through Huntington National Bank. A separate document through the same bank says the car was bought for nothing in March 2008. The university is determining at this time which document is legitimate.
Ohio State's compliance department is investigating the Gibson transaction and at least four dozen others involving car sales to players and their relatives.
There is no evidence yet showing players did anything wrong, according to an athletic director who issued a statement to reporters over this Memorial Day weekend. However, Ohio State is going to continue to scrutinize the details of the transactions to ensure they are all above board and meet university policies, he said.
The account executive at the car dealerships who handled the sales and loans received game passes to seven football games from players. Passes included seats for the 2007 national championship game and the 2009 Fiesta Bowl, according to an Associated Press report. The university has since stopped the account executive from seeing games for free by banning him from the guest list.
Six big schools have faced NCAA sanctions since 1990 over athletes getting free cars or discounts on purchases. They are Arizona State, Illinois (twice), Louisville, Michigan State, Minnesota and Southern Cal.

Monday, May 30, 2011

AUTO WORLD OBSERVES MEMORIAL DAY


Today, we observe and pay tribute to those that have fallen and those still standing in bravery for our country. 

We Thank, Love, and Honor You. 

God Bless All.

-Auto World Team

Friday, May 27, 2011

Nissan constructing solar charging station for Leafs



Nissan constructing solar charging station for Leafs


Nissan began construction on a 30-car solar charging station outside of the future Smyrna Vehicle Assembly Plant in Tennessee. The solar charging port is expected to be completed in July, and will use renewable energy to charge the Nissan Leafs that will be produced there in 2012. The Nissan Leaf and its 24 kWh lithium ion battery pack are currently manufactured in Japan.

When the solar car ports aren't being used to recharge EVs, the excess solar energy will help power Nissan's manufacturing facilities, according to a Nissan spokesman. Nissan did not release details about the energy capacity of the charging stations. A total of 125 solar charging stations are planned for Tennessee, according to a report by Nashville Public Radio.

General Motors is also using renewable energy to help build its extended-range electric vehicles. The manufacturer began construction on a 516-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array at the Detroit-Hamtramck assembly plant.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

5 Reasons Buying New Makes Sense


The Top Five Reasons To Buy A New Set of Wheels

New fuel saving and safety technology should pull you off the sidelines if you can afford it.

The U.S. economy is still dragging. Middle Eastern regimes seem to be imploding almost weekly, spiking the cost of oil and gasoline at the pump, and shaking consumer confidence. Unemployment remains around 9% with many older baby boomers and new college grads have dropped out of the workforce for lack of jobs. And because so many people have precarious incomes, they are hanging on to their vehicles longer.

In 2005, the average age of a vehicle on the road was 8.9. Today, it is almost ten years. The good news is that carmakers were improving quality so much in the early part of the last decade that those hit by falling home values and layoffs can drive their cars well beyond 100,000 miles.

But if you are among the fortunate who are prospering or at least holding your own, and have been putting off a new vehicle purchase because you are simply a tight-wad and want to drive the car you have into the ground, think again.

Cars and trucks have changed dramatically for the better in just the last decade in the areas of safety, entertainment and fuel economy. If you're driving a decade-old vehicle, here are five good reasons to consider upgrading to a 2011 model.

Economy

Numerous governmental and industry studies demonstrate that new vehicles generally use less fuel than their older counterparts. Comparing vehicles from 1975 to 2005 shows a 50-percent increase in fuel efficiency.

The trend continues. High fuel prices and government regulations have increased the demand and the incentiveto produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. Technology, however, is the genuine reason behind today's higher mpg vehicles.

Many individual features enable real jumps in efficiency compared to older vehicles. For example, in 2001, many new cars were offered with automatic transmissions. These gearboxes used just three or four forward gears.

Today, even low-priced subcompact cars like the Ford Fiestaand Chevrolet Cruze feature automatic transmission with six gears. Chrysler will soon have a fuel-saving automatic with nine! Additional gears enable the engine to run at more efficient engine speeds.

Another significant change is direct fuel injection. Unlike standard fuel injection systems, direct injection (DI) squirts fuel directly into an engine's combustion chamber (instead of in the intake manifold). The DI injectors enable greater efficiency and lower fuel use.

Many vehicles are also using electric power steering pumps as opposed to belt-driven hydraulic pumps. The later pumps were working all the time, sapping up valuable engine power. Electric power steering systems require less power to do the same work. According to Nexsteer, a supplier of both kinds of steering systems, switching to an electric steering system saves the equivalent of 500-pounds of vehicle weight.

Power

While new engines and transmissions help deliver more fuel economy, newer vehicles also tend to be more powerful. It's a win-win situation.

In many cases, changes to engines that improve fuel economy also increase horsepower. During the past decade, engine engineers have:

- Reduced internal friction so that engine components can move more freely

- Increased the computing power of engine power-train control modules (the computers that control engines) to enable fuel-saving modes of operation such as cylinder de-activation. That means some vehicles that are V8 or V6 can operate 4 or three cylinders respectively at highway speeds where less acceleration power is needed.

- Used computer-aided-design to maximize the efficiency of air intake and exhaust systems

An example of increasing horsepower is the Chevrolet Camaro. In 2001, a Camaro with a 3.8-liter V-6 produced 200-horsepower. Today, a 2011 Camaro with a 3.6-liter V-6 produces 312-horsepower (more than the 5.7-liter V-8 from 2001) and gets better fuel economy. The 2011 Camaro with the 6.2-liter V-8 runs with a fire-breathing 426-hp. Those who can wait until the 2012 Camaro ZL1 arrives can enjoy a pavement shredding 550-hp.

Power trends aren't any different for family sedans or minivans.

Safety

Significant changes in technology make vehicle occupants safer than ever before. For instance, on the 2001 Toyota Camry, front airbags were standard. Side airbags for the driver and front passenger were optional. Ananti-lock brake system (ABS) was standard on highly contented V-6 models, but traction control was optional across the board. Electronic stability control was still an exotic, not-available-on-affordable-car feature.

Today, the 2011 Toyota Camry offers seven standard airbags including side-curtain airbags that stretch back into the rear seats, and a driver's knee airbag. A sophisticated electronic stability control system is standard, as are ABS and all-speed traction control.

Which car would you rather drive? (And in case you haven't heard, a Federal investigation concluded that Toyota's electronic system does not cause its vehicles to accelerate by themselves, though plaintiff attorneys continue to challege the government's findings).

In addition to the basics, technologies such as lane departure warning, automatic emergency braking, and various traffic warning systems are migrating down from luxury cars to the mass market.

Tech

Not a single new 2001-model year vehicle sold in the US offered factory-installed iPod connectivity or the ability to play music off of a USB device. However, you could option up to an audio system that played both cassette tapes and CDs. And since then, satellite radio has been added as standard or optional equipment on most vehicles.

Other technically advanced features you couldn't find in 2001 include power ventilated front seats (that cool or heat one's seat) Bluetooth wireless connections that enabled cell-phone integration into the vehicle's audio system, and Satellite TV.

Options including head-up display, voice-controlled navigation systems and rear-view cameras - some available in 2001 and some not - are becoming more widely available today.

Comfort and Design

If you have the opportunity to drive a 2011 model back-to-back with a 2001 vehicle, you'll be surprised at everything you don't notice; wind noise, engine noise, and road noise.

In order to make voice-activated systems such as GM's OnStar and Ford's Sync operate more reliably, engineers were forced to make automotive interiors quieter. The results are notable and help making driving more relaxing and comfortable.

Modern interiors are also generally more handsome than those of a decade ago. Illustrating a major improvement in just seven years, the differences between the 2003 Porsche Cayenne and the all-new 2011 model couldn't be more obvious. Gone are the acres of plastic and cheap looking vents. The second-generationCayenne picks up styling cues from the Panamera sedan, enveloping drivers in a rich interior filled with careful detailing and vastly improved materials.

The same could be said for the wholesale changes Chrysler made in their line from 2010 to 2011. While the2011 Chrysler 200 is still not one of our favorite cars, the sedan's interior is much improved over the 2010 edition. Materials feel richer because designers specified soft surfaces for the areas occupants touch. The feel is certainly superior to hard plastic. Likewise, the instrument cluster features a highly designed, 3-D appearance as opposed to plain gauge faces.

What It All Means...

While 2011 models still have four wheels and burn fossil fuels, much has changed, and it's all for the better.

Hit a dealer showroom near you to see the advances for yourself.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

How an IndyCar compares with your car

How an IndyCar compares with your car
By Daryle W. Hier

Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Indy) sometimes referred to as the "Brickyard" is the home of the "Greatest Spectacle in Racing" - the Indy 500, arguably the most famous, intense and grueling race in the history of motorsports.

It seems as if racing has been in man's blood since the beginning of time. Horses, camels and whatever else a human could ride have been raced. In 1673, the internal combustion engine came along, invented by a man named Christian Huygens and was operated with gun powder and an open flame for combustion (carbibles.com).

A masterpiece of engineering

In order to continue with man's need for speed and racing, the times dictated the development of these engines to the point they could be highly modified for racing purposes. To accommodate a racing power plant, the car body and chassis also need to be modified. In the case of today's highly technical forms of racing, revolutionary made-for-purpose chassis' and engines evolved - one of which is the IndyCar of today - a masterpiece of engineering.
No frame on an IndyCar
The IndyCar is expressly built for racing. These beautiful streamlined missiles you see on the speedway whistling around the track at over 200 miles per hour are of monocoque (unibody) design, all made by Dallara Automobili in Italy and have no frame. The center of the car, including the driver's compartment or cockpit, is called the "tub". It is made of extremely light honeycomb-carbon fiber and aluminum and reaches forward enough to accommodate the driver's legs and foot-operated pedals. The tub extends rearward to the engine mounts which are actually stress members and part of the rear suspension. Wings to control down force are found on both the nose and tail. The length of the car is 192 to 195 inches or about eight feet long and 78 inches wide. Body panels are aluminum and carbon-fiber; the wheels are magnesium; and it weighs 1620 pounds (racing.honda.com).
Engines built for speed, not mileage
Currently, specifications for the engines are mandated by the IZOD IndyCar Series. All teams must use the all-aluminum Honda V8 racing engine and the Dallara chassis. Teams are allowed to make only minor tuning changes to the engines. The powerful little beasts have double overhead cams with four valves per cylinder; they use methanol (alcohol) for fuel and are naturally aspirated with fuel injection. The engine size is 3.5 liters (213.6 cubic inches) and they put out a whopping 650 horsepower which is over three horsepower per cubic inch.
Your car? It gets roughly between 150 and 300 horsepower with 120 to 400 cubic inches.
Mileage on these mini-monsters is not for the faint-of-heart. At two and a half miles per gallon, it's no wonder they have a 35 gallon tank. These days in comparison, the average American expects his car to get 20 - 35 miles per gallon.
IndyCars are a unique breed. Due to the "Spec" limitations on the cars, tuning the engine becomes a finite art. The difference between winning and losing can be in chassis setup. For instance, when qualifying, the difference in a few miles per hour can be in adjusting the combination of front and rear wings along with shock absorbers to obtain that perfect "balance" for qualifying and another setup for racing.
Different than other race cars
Another form of open wheel racing is the sprint car. Unlike IndyCars, Sprint cars are a different animal indeed. These firecrackers of oval track racing on both pavement and dirt have a short wheel base (86 - 88 inches) and tons of power. Most use fuel injection but carburetors are allowed. A steel tubing frame is used complete with roll cage and just about any engine combination you can think of as long as it falls within the 360 or 410 cubic inch class guidelines. Alcohol is used as fuel and there are no blowers or turbochargers. Chevrolet and Ford V8 engines are widely used though other brands are allowed. Bodies vary but generally conform to the old sprint car and midget configurations. There is a rugged difference between the sprint and the more sophisticated IndyCar (dobeyracing.net).
NASCAR
NASCAR is again a different breed and unlike the IndyCar, these cars are built to look somewhat like the cars we drive on the street. Bigger and heavier there is no comparison with the sleek and slippery IndyCar.
To race fans, all auto racing is exciting but with this special place and all the pageantry involved on Memorial Day, there is nothing like these beautiful cars at the Indy 500, "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing".



Monday, May 23, 2011

Toyota electric cars will tweet, friend you

Toyota electric cars will tweet, friend you
Matthew Lynley


Car manufacturer Toyota is working with Salesforce.com, a provider of web-based software for large companies, to create a private social network for electric car drivers that will connect them with Toyota officials and local dealerships.

The “Toyota Friend” service will let electric car and plug-in hybrid electric car drivers communicate with Toyota and other maintenance officials to exchange diagnostic information about their cars. That can include driving habits, various information about the car’s performance and what the car’s battery level is. It’s a private social network, but drivers can connect the network to existing well-known social networks like Twitter and Facebook to share stories.

Salesforce.com has already tried breaking into the social networking space with its own private enterprise social network called Chatter. That network feeds into its customer relationship management (CRM) software and is designed to streamline collaboration and internal communication. Chatter is basically a carbon copy of Yammer, another enterprise-style social network that beat the company to the punch and brought mainstream social networking concepts to large enterprises.

Chatter will power the backbone of Toyota’s social network. Drivers can access Toyota Friend through smartphones and tablets, likely through a web-based interface that most social networks like Facebook use. Neither company indicated whether a mobile application would be available on the Android Marketplace or the Apple App Store — or whether drivers will be able to access it through the existing Chatter applications. The service will first be available in Japan in 2012.

Toyota Friend is the car manufacturer’s attempt to catch up to other car manufacturers like Ford, which has worked with Microsoft to create Sync, an on-board wireless system that lets drivers access the Bing search engine and a number of interactive online features. Salesforce.com will invest $2.7 million in Toyota Media Service, which oversees Toyota’s cloud computing projects like Toyota Friend, as part of the deal. Toyota will also invest $5.4 million in its media subsidiary to fund the private social network.


Saturday, May 21, 2011

If you must buy a car now, here's what to do


If you must buy a car now, here's what to do

By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times

Rising prices and a looming vehicle shortage make this summer one of the worst times in years to go car shopping. But if your vehicle is on its last leg or your lease is about to come due, here are some tips on how to navigate through a difficult market.
• Consider cars with incentives: Manufacturers still offer some incentives, especially for cars that are near the end of their model cycle or are slow sellers. Most of the big auto information companies, including Edmunds.com, TrueCar.Com and kbb.com (Kelley Blue Book), offer incentive data on their websites.
• Check supply: While inventories are tightening across the board, some manufacturers will have ample inventory for some vehicles, and these will have the better deals. TrueCar's TrueTrends reportoffers a monthly listing of new vehicles with the shortest and longest days' inventory. This month's report, for example, will tell you that Hyundai dealers have only an eight-day supply of their hot-selling Elantra sedan. It's also tough to find a Ford Explorer — only a nine-day inventory. But if you want a BMW Z4, start shopping. The Z4 is about to be replaced with a new-generation model, and BMW dealers have a fat 161-day supply — more than five months' worth. Similarly, Hyundai dealers are sitting on a 133-day inventory of the automaker's Azera sedan.
• Be a contrarian: For now, that means bigger. With many buyers gravitating to smaller, fuel-efficient vehicles, consider buying something that drinks a bit more gas. Yes, it will cost you more each time you go to the pump, but with small-car prices going up rapidly you might find that the price gap between a compact vehicle and something larger has narrowed considerably. Large cars and trucks have the biggest discounts this month, and that's likely to be the case throughout the summer.
• Don't be wedded to a brand: The domestic makes, as well as Hyundai and Kia and the German manufacturers, have not suffered the supply disruptions incurred by the Japanese brands. Ford, GM and the South Korean makers all have models that drive well and are as fuel efficient as the popular Japanese nameplates. You might not get as good a deal as a year ago, but you'll still have a nice new vehicle to drive. The Germans dominate the luxury category, and there are still scattered lease deals and other incentives around.
• Consider leasing: When interest rates are low and projected resale values are high — as we are seeing in the current market — manufacturers can offer attractive lease deals. Many people don't like leases because they amount to long-term rentals and you don't have a car to drive at the end of the contract. But with the market so confused, it might make sense to lease a car and figure you can purchase a vehicle 36 months from now when things will be more settled.
• Get an extension: If your lease is running out, ask for a six-month extension. Some of the Japanese automakers are beginning to offer extensions just to keep you out of the market until they have a better supply. They want to keep you from defecting to a rival automaker.
• Don't assume used cars are a better deal: The market is seeing prices jump for used cars. There's a shortage dating back to industry events of two and three years ago. (See accompanying story.) Dealers are bidding up the price of used cars as they try to build their inventories to have vehicles to sell as the supply of new cars shrinks. This could turn into a bubble. It's possible that later this summer dealers will find they have purchased too many used cars and have to lower prices. But for now it's tough. A 3-year-old mid-size passenger car averages $13,700, according to Kelley Blue Book. That's up $4,500 from the $9,200 a 3-year-old mid-size passenger car sold for in 2007. Compact cars are up $3,500 to $11,200. Carefully research models and pricing at used-car information sites such as AutoTrader.com. You might be better off buying a slower-selling new vehicle than a late-model used car that's a hot seller.
For an interesting take on this, check out the new-versus-used vehicle comparison chart
on Edmunds.com.
• Shop for cars owned by seniors: Check around the neighborhood for a used car that an elderly driver might be selling. He or she could be giving up a driver's license or cutting back to one car. These cars can be older but are often good deals and can last you for several years until you want to dip back into the new-car market.
• Hold on to what you are driving: People usually can drive their cars for many more miles than they expect. There might be some extra expenses, such as new tires or a timing belt, but those often amount to just a month or two of new-car payments and would be worth it if that keeps you in wheels and out of the new-car market until early next year.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Cars to Drive Before the World Ends


Cars to Drive Before the World Ends



5 Cars To Drive Before The Rapture
by Sharon Silke Carty

The Rapture is coming this Saturday, so it’s time to get ready. We here at AOL Autos think there are some cars you should drive before you leave us.

For those who aren’t in the know: Rapture is a controversial belief the Jesus will come to Earth and send the believers to heaven. The rest of us will suffer through earthquakes and fire, and be left watching the world crumble for several months before dying a terrible death. There are a lot of details about the post-Rapture days, but that's the deal in a nutshell.

Oh, and one preacher says it's happening this Saturday, May 21. That doesn't leave much time left to experience what the material world offers.

Here's a list of great cars that offer a fabulous experience. Since it is very hard to walk into a Ferrari or Aston Martin dealer and ask for a test drive, we tried to keep our list to attainable cars.

Godless heathens and other non-believers can feel free to test out our list at your leisure. What would you drive if it was your last day on the planet?




Hummer H1

Before it suffered its own judgment day, the Hummer brand became a lightening rod for environmentalists who saw it as the epitome of American excess.

But it was easily the most extreme mass-produced off-road vehicle ever built. Its ability to go almost anywhere prompted General Motor’s former vice chairman Bob Lutz to declare Hummer the brand Jesus would drive: “Because it can drive through the desert, and carry all the apostles.”

The smaller models GM put out, the H2 and the H3, were polarizing to look at but super fun to drive. Especially the yellow ones, which made it feel like you were driving a giant Tonka truck.

Where to find one: Some of the rental companies, like Avis and Budget, offer Hummers to rent for the day in some locations. Otherwise, check Craig’s List or newspaper used car listings to see if a seller nearby will let you test drive theirs.

Chevy Volt
This is one of the neatest, most futuristic cars on the market right now. It’s the kind of technology all the heathens could be driving in 10 or 20 years, if the world isn’t destroyed by then.

The Volt is an extended range electric hybrid that goes about 40 miles on pure battery power before the backup gas power kicks in. It’s zippy, and sleek, and feels like you’re driving the future.

The car only seats four, though, so you might not be able to bring the whole clan for a ride. The lithium-ion battery that powers the car goes through the middle of the car, leaving an uncomfortable hump between the two back seats.

Where to find one: The car won’t be available nationwide until the end of the year. Right now, you have to go to Michigan, Washington, D.C., California, New York, Connecticut, New Jersey and Texas.
Dealers have limited quantities, so it might be hard to find. But it would be worth it.

Audi A3 TDI

Its nimble German engineering makes this car cool enough, but add in a turbo diesel engine and you’ve got unbeatable fun.

It’s fast and fuel efficient. Better yet, it has a ton of torque. You may not think you like torque, or even know what that means, but if you like the feeling of a rollercoaster when it takes off from a top of its highest peak, you’ll like the TDI.

If you drive it like an angel, you could get close to 50 mpg. Drive a little devilish, and your fuel economy will drop. But it’s your last day on Earth, so live it up a bit.

Where to find it: Supplies of diesel cars can be a little tight at dealerships, so call ahead to your local Audi dealer before asking for a test drive.


Subaru WRX STI

After offering its top-shelf WRX STI as an overseas affair for years, Subaru finally unleashed the rally-car-turned-sport-sedan on the U.S. market in 2004.

More audacious (and more hardcore) than the already good WRX, the STI packed even more power from its turbocharged engine. With a manual transmission and all-wheel drive as the only drivetrain option, the STI quickly became a hit amongst a younger crowd of racers and enthusiasts.

Today, the STI is, arguably, the best four-season sport sedan on the market, offering turbocharged thrills with one of the greatest all-wheel-drive systems on the planet.

Driving one is like sinning, without actually violating any of the commandments. It's the one Japanese car we decided we'd definitely want to drive before exiting this world for the next.

Porsche 911

Nearly 50 years after the original 911 was introduced, the sports car remains an icon for good reason: It’s beautiful to look at, even though its design hasn’t changed radically since it was introduced in 1963.

And it is a pure sports car. It is low to the ground, corners easily, and is fairly sparse inside, so your attention is focused on the road.

There are a lot of different versions of the 911, but we suggest you try out the Turbo. It’s got a “launch” feature that lets you rev the engine while you’re stepping on the brake. When you release the brake, the car takes off like a jet. Why not try it, especially if it’s your last day on Earth?

Where to find one: We’d avoid the Porsche dealership, unless you're sure you know how to pronounce Porsche properly and can appear to be a serious buyer with a ready checkbook (don’t mention anything about that end-of-the-world stuff). If the Porsche dealer has already closed his doors for the Apocalypse, check Craig’s List or used car pages to hunt this one down. You'll be glad you did.









Thursday, May 19, 2011

Nissan's new Leaf is an all-out race car

Nissan's new Leaf is an all-out race car
As with early gas vehicles, company hopes racing circuit will help fine-tuneBy
Larry Edsall 

When Nissan unveiled the Leaf, it said the car would be the first in a series of all-electric vehicles the automaker planned to produce. But who would have expected that the second in that series would be all-out, purpose-built racing cars?

The first of those cars, the Nissan Leaf NISMO RC, made its public debut at the recent New York auto show. Other early prototypes already are being tested on race tracks in Japan.
NISMO is short for NISsan MOtorsports, the automaker's racing department, and RC is short for Racing Competition.

While the Leaf NISMO RC may not look much like the Leafs you see on the road, it shares the same electric propulsion components, and just as in the early days of gasoline-powered cars, competition on the racetrack figures to improve cars and components used on the road.
"Racing improves the breed," said Ron Stukenberg, senior motorsports manager for Nissan North America. "You learn when you're out there pushing at the limit, especially when you're running production components."
To build a racing car around Leaf powertrain components, NISMO not only created a new chassis, but also moved the electric motor and inverter, and rearranged the lithium-ion batteries for a midengine setup that powers the rear wheels.

The car has a racing-style carbon fiber monocoque with a three-piece, two-door body with removable front and rear sections, fixed windows and a driver-adjustable rear wing. Front/rear brake balance also can be adjusted from inside the cockpit. The double-wishbone suspension can be set up for driver style and track configuration.

The NISMO RC is nearly 4 inches shorter in wheelbase than the production Leaf, not quite an inch longer, and is more than 6 inches wider. Its roofline is 13.8 inches lower than the four-door's, and the car sits a mere 2.4 inches above the ground, compared to 6.3 inches for the production version.

The NISMO RC has no gearshift lever, only a toggle switch for forward or reverse. Stukenberg notes that he's raced U.S. Auto Club midgets and they, too, have only one forward gear.
The NISMO RC weighs 2,068 pounds, some 40 percent less than the four-door sedan.
Nissan expects the car to have a top speed of more than 90 miles per hour and to be able to race for 20 minutes on a full charge, which is about the same length of time as many "support" races run on multievent racing weekends.

Nissan will showcase the NISMO RC at racing venues this year and hopes to launch a one-make series in 2012.

One possibility would be three series — one for North and South America; one for Europe, Africa and the Middle East; and another for Asia, with an all-star finale for the top drivers from each geographic region.

Sounds like fun, though "sounds" may be the wrong word. After all, that typically loud race car exhaust blare is one thing these EV racers won't have.