NISSAN HAD been toying with the idea of building a car driven by an electrically powered motor since 1970, when it displayed the Nissan City concept car at the Tokyo motor show. But it took decades before the company brought an electric car to the worldwide market and allowed drivers to plug in to the electric car movement.
In the interim the Japanese car company produced all manner of weird and not so wonderful concept cars that served only to reinforce the stereotype of electric vehicles as odd-looking microcars of little practical use.
The Leaf changed all that. Here was a family hatchback that was priced to compete with, say, a high-spec Volkswagen Golf. It is now the world’s bestselling pure-electric car, with 200,000 snapped up worldwide since 2011.
Part of the Leaf’s success is its marketing, of course, and in 2012 that involved setting an unusual world record. What was its claim to fame? Scroll down for the answer …
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At the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the Nissan Leaf broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest time over a distance of one mile in reverse. With Terry Grant, a professional stunt driver, at the wheel, the car completed the Goodwood hillclimb course in 1 minute 37.02 seconds, at an average speed of 55 mph. Cars have reached higher top speeds in reverse, but not over the same distance.
With direct drive from the electric motor to its wheels, the Nissan Leaf was able to hit the same top speed in reverse as it manages going forwards — once Nissan had switched off the reversing-speed limiter.