Nissan Sparky: electric pick-up charges in

Engineers at Nissan's Arizona-based Technical Centre develop Leaf and Navara-based EV pick-up, called the Sparky

Nissan Sparky

This is the Nissan Sparky, a strange one-off cross between the LEAF EV and a Navara pick-up truck. It’s the brainchild of Roland Schellenberg and Arnold Moulinet, engineers at Nissan’s Technical Centre in Stanfield, Arizona, and was developed to transport people and supplies around the 3,050 acre on-site proving grounds. 

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

The idea was one thing, building it turned out to be a little more complicated, and took months of work and planning, as Moulinet noted: “After he [Schellenberg] told us it was going to be the LEAF that would redo, I went home and stayed up till like four in the morning making all kinds of designs for what would work.”

As you can see, the two-seater uses the standard LEAF’s interior, front end and powertrain, including a 107bhp electric motor driven by a 24kWh lithium ion battery, with the rear adapted to accommodate the Navara’s load bay.

On a day-to-day basis, Sparky is used around the low-desert terrain at Nissan’s test centre, a hot weather facility used to monitor heat durability, engine cooling and air performance. It also includes a 5.7-mile high-speed oval and four individual road courses designed for durability, reliability and ride comfort checks.

“We tried to keep it a secret and be exciting for everybody,” adds Schellenberg. “But we have visitors and they come and see that truck and they go straight to ‘what is it?’ and they start looking at it”. 

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