Nissan Unveils ESFLOW Electric Sports Car Concept, Solidly Hinting At Future Design

By · February 09, 2011

The Nissan ESFLOW electric sports car concept is a strong hint at what's to come from the company.

Both the Z series and the GT-R have established Nissan as a force in the sports car world, and with the LEAF, Nissan is already considered the leader in pure electric drivetrains. So it's only natural the company would want to mash the two seemingly disparate things together—which is exactly what they've gone and done.

Ahead of its official debut at the Geneva Motor Show next month, Nissan has unveiled the ESFLOW electric sports car concept. Lying somewhere in between the rocket sexiness of the GT-R and the cute-catfishness of the LEAF, the ESFLOW looks almost exactly like a Nissan-branded electric sports car should—and it brings some much needed excitement to the burgeoning world of plug-ins.

As a concept, details are a bit lacking at this point, but Nissan says the ESFLOW is a two-seat sports car designed from the ground up as an electric car. Just like the LEAF, this purpose-built design means the car can take full advantage of its "electricness." According to Nissan this has allowed the designers "to place the power train and batteries in the optimum positions to benefit the car's handling and performance and enhancing the thrill of driving."

The ESFLOW uses some of the same powertrain and battery components as the LEAF, but arranged in a way to optimize performance. For instance, although the ESLOW uses the same batteries as the LEAF, they are placed in a more balanced location and their power flows to two motors at the rear of the car which independently operate both rear wheels. Nissan says the configuration should allow for a 0-60 time of under 5 seconds with dynamic performance. Nissan also claims the ESFLOW should be able to travel about 150 miles on a charge—approximately 50% more range than the LEAF. Whether this is due to having a larger battery pack or lower weight, or both, is unknown.

For now Nissan is going out of its way to remind everyone that the ESFLOW is only a concept, but it looks more like a souped up production car than a typical concept. And given that Nissan/Infiniti have already committed to building electric sports cars, it's not that much of a stretch to imagine that the ESFLOW is providing some strong clues as to the design direction of those future vehicles. Plus, at one point in the press release Nissan says "we hope ESFLOW owners will also feel the car to be an extension of their bodies, reacting to their slightest whims. The driver must be at the centre of the sports car both physically and metaphorically." Sounds like a strong endorsement for production to me.


· · 7 years ago

Nice Tron-like video. Tesla, look out!

· · 7 years ago

No, Porsche and Ferrari look out!
I hope they've got something a bit more real than a cartoon video. It will be great to see what can be done with sports cars when they have all the flexibility that an electric drivetrain can provide.
I'll hypothesize that this thing is essentially 2 independent Leaf drivetrains, one for each driven wheel. This would provide about twice the torque of the Leaf. Logically, this would give you 0-60 acceleration in <5 sec since that would require about twice the torque and power of a Leaf's ~10 sec time. Having double the batteries to provide twice the current would also, by default, give you about twice the range of the Leaf. The ability to place motors, batteries, and inverters anywhere you like should allow the design of an incredibly well-handling sports car if done from the ground up.
They could reasonably expect to build it and sell it for about twice the price of the Leaf, probably with better profit margin (no differential, fewer doors, seats, windows, and only single steering/AC/braking systems) and be very competitive in the mid-end sports car market.
Sounds like a performance and business winner as well as an environmentally friendly eco machine like the Tesla Roadster.
GM, Ford, Chrysler - are you guys paying attention?
Next Nissan could do the same thing with their Pathfinder or Armada but use 4 Leaf drivetrains for the most incredible AWD anyone has ever seen.

· · 7 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver Leaf batteries are actually capable of much more power output. It has been dialed down to maximize range of a 3300 lb car. Reduce the weight, increase the motor power and inverter output, you have got a sports car.

· · 7 years ago

@ex-EV1, I'm with you on the benefits of four drivetrains for awesome AWD, whether for a sportscar or an SUV. Perhaps Tesla will be the first to do this, in their Model X.

· · 7 years ago

Will that be like the Renault Dezire of Nissan

· · 7 years ago

@ex-EV1 and abasile, Totally into the AWD four motor setup. Surprised nobody has really grabbed that one by the horns yet.

@Charles-Olivier, I think the Renault DeZir was much more of a concept vehicle than the ESFLOW, but it was certainly a good looking car:

· · 7 years ago

I agree that your assessment would work but that would require the design of a whole new powertrain. Doubling the one you already have won't cost any development money and can leverage off of the production volumes from the Leaf so its production costs will likely be lower. It will give all of the benefits:
- more power
- more net torque
- longer range
- electronic differential (more efficient than gears)
- optimal traction control (a practice platform for the future, awesome AWD many of us are fantasizing about)
- better powertrain efficiency
- Active, optimal yaw control
Dialing down the battery output power allowed won't affect your range when driving at an economical speed.

· · 7 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver · You are forgetting the effect on price, weight and space.

Nissan will be making other cars using the same batteries for Infinity. They will use different motors, inverters and optimize the firmware differently as needed.

· · 7 years ago

No, I expressly explained how cost will likely decrease if they use the same parts as the leaf both in non-recurring and recurring costs because of economies of scale. Weight may increase from more power in a single box -vs- 2 of everything but electronics boxes aren't very heavy. Having smaller components that can be placed in optimal locations for balance and shape should reduce the space required, not increase it.
Firmware will definitely need to optimized but that only affects non-recurring engineering costs, not weight, space, or recurring costs.

· · 7 years ago

EV Now seems to be describing the Renault DeZir: very light weight; LEAF power train with uprated power and torque; 0-60 in 5 seconds; the increase in range coming mainly from the reduced weight and reduced frontal area, and perhaps a somewhat larger battery pack.

The Nissan will apparently get two motors, which means that two new (single-speed) transmissions are needed, possibly based on some LEAF internals, but without the differential.

From the front, the Nissan looks too much like a seventies Corvette for my tastes.

A route they are not taking with the Nissan, but which would be fun and easy (so easy that people used to do this with the Honda CRX) would be two entire LEAF drivetrains, one front, one rear: twice the power and four wheel drive.

· · 7 years ago

@ex-EV1 driver "Having double the batteries"

This is the biggest difference between what you say and what I'm saying. Double the batteries not only makes the car heavier by 600 pounds, but there won't be enough space to put them. Not to speak of $15K or so more in cost.

In anycase, if you read other reports, you will see that Nissan is doing what I'm saying. 24 kwh battery, aluminum body to reduce weight, even using fixed seats to reduce weight.

"Power is provided by the same 24kw/h laminated lithium-ion batteries used by the LEAF. However, in the ESFLOW these are located along the front and rear axles for optimum weight distribution. The batteries give a range of over 150 miles – an improvement on the LEAF’s 109 miles.

Using an aluminium chassis to cut weight, the ESFLOW features dramatic styling which is an evolution of the current 370Z. The head and taillights are particularly striking, as they appear slashed into the car’s bodywork. The headlights also hide the charging points for the batteries.

On the inside, the ESFLOW saves weight by swapping conventional seats for a pair of gold-leather-upholstered fixed chairs sculpted into the bulkhead – the driver adjusts the steering wheel and pedals instead."

· · 7 years ago

Cool that they are getting almost 50% range increase by lightening the weight and improving aerodynamics.

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