Nissan have enjoyed a reputation throughout their history of producing essentially reliable cars. They have also, in the past, suffered a reputation for the mundane (meet the Cedric or perhaps the more familiar,  Almera). Yet, look beyond the obvious and you can find some unique models that are just as much a part of the Japanese firm’s ethos and culture.

The Nissan Sparky is a LEAF based pick-up that harks back to the Figaro and the brilliantly named S Cargo van; so named because it looked like a snail (think about it…) Although the Sparky has it’s roots more in Arizona rather than Kanagawa in Japan.

nissan leaf-based sparky pick-up

Arnold Moulinet and Roland Schellenberg are two Stanfield-based Nissan engineers that found they were having problems getting around the huge 3,050-acre site in Arizona. So, as you might expect of engineers, they came up with a solution.

Their solution was a practical, electric-powered LEAF-based vehicle that was able to transport parts around the vast site. Schellenberg said that they tried to keep it low key, a secret in fact, but visitors to the plant couldn’t help but ask questions about the unusual parts-hauling vehicle that was seen working on the site.

nissan leaf-based sparky pick-up rear view

The 24kWh lithium ion battery-powered pick-up uses a redesigned LEAF electric vehicle with the bed of a Nissan Frontier (better known as the Navara to us in the UK) with added wood for that fifties retro feel. The Sparky also uses a section from the Titan for the rear of the driver cab, which also means that it has the added joy of an electric rear cab window – a great idea. Rear LED brake lights have also been added under the rear of the pick-up, so they actually reflect on the ground when the brakes are applied.

nissan leaf-based sparky pick-up rear

Because this is based on the LEAF, it retains the rear curves that are so often lost in the practicalities of pick-up design, which gives it that unique appeal that – in my mind at least – puts it in that same bracket as distant cousins the Figaro and S Cargo.

Originally just a project to bring the Arizona design team together, the final result is something that would surely sell globally should Nissan decide to take the Sparky forward.

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