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.
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.
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.
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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