For over 80 years, Nissan has been pushing the boundaries of innovation within the motorsports industry. Ever since the Datsun NL-75 won at the Japanese Tamagawa Speedway in 1936, Nissan has developed some of the most recognized racing cars to have ever graced the track. This continues to this day in Canada with the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC, which is an official pace car for the Nissan Micra Cup spec series. This marks the first time in the history of motorsports in a Canadian series that a 100 per cent electric car takes to the track.

The Nissan LEAF NISMO RC used in the Nissan Micra Cup is one of six LEAF NISMO RC units built in the world.


  • Developed by Nissan's racing arm, NISMO, evident through distinctive silver and black paint scheme with NISMO red accents – similar to the Nissan Formula E car.
  • Two electric motors at opposite ends of the chassis produce 322 combined horsepower (161 horsepower each) and an astounding 472-lb. ft. of instant torque to the wheels. 
  • Drivetrain technology sourced from the Nissan LEAF include the high-capacity lithium-ion battery and inverters.
  • A new all-wheel-drive system gives the LEAF NISMO RC outstanding cornering prowess.
  • Features a multitude of lightweight components and a full carbon fibre racing monocoque structure, allowing it to tip the scales at just 1,220 kilograms.
  • The power-to-weight ratio results in an impressive performance of zero to 100 kph in just 3.4 seconds.

To learn more about this ground-breaking initiative, Nissan Canada gathered insights from an employee close to the project.

Meet Didier Marsaud, director of corporate communications and program director for the Nissan Micra Cup. Before joining Nissan Canada in 2008, Marsaud worked for Nissan Europe as manager of product communications and events, but his ties to motorsport run deep. Marsaud's career is anchored in motorsport starting as a motorsports journalist and holding communications jobs for a number of major races including, but not limited to: the Tunisia Rally, Morocco Rally and the French Supercross Championship. This later evolved to working in the press office for Renault Sport in France.

Q:         Where were you when you first saw the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC and what were your thoughts?

A:         It was last fall; I was in my office, over the phone with Mike Carcamo, who is the Global Motorsport director for Nissan. We were discussing projects for the 2019 season, and he shared with me a sneak peak of a confidential project. However, he did not tell me what he was sending, he simply said, "Check your inbox." When I opened the email, it was a mind-blowing surprise! I immediately fell in love with the LEAF NISMO RC… its design, its aggressive exterior, the low stance, the long hood. It's a superb race car and after only one minute, I had a clear mental picture of it on Canadian racetracks leading the Micra Cup cars.    

Q:         How did Canada manage to acquire one of only six LEAF NISMO RC vehicles for the Nissan Micra Cup?

A:         The NISMO team in Japan has always been supportive of the Nissan Micra Cup, they have followed it very closely since the first season in 2015. When I suggested to Mike Carcamo that we use one unit in Canada for the Micra Cup, he didn't say, "Yes" immediately, but he was intrigued by the idea, because he really wants to show the public what an electric race car is capable of, how it performs. Two months later, we came to an agreement, and this unit arrived to our office in Mississauga, just in time for the auto show in Toronto.

Q:         How has the Micra Cup community reacted to the LEAF NISMO RC in the paddock and on the track?

A:         The Micra Cup community has been thrilled to discover the LEAF NISMO RC. It generated a lot of curiosity from drivers, their mechanics, and all the people in the paddock. It is the first time people are seeing a real, 100 per cent electric race car in action, and people are amazed by the performance, the look, the technology, the AWD system, and the overall quality of the car. It's a real prototype, it's not just a modified LEAF. Naturally, anyone who is a fan of motorsport or cars wants to see it, understand how it works, see the components, and drive it.

Q:         What is driving the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC on a racetrack like?

A:         Unfortunately, for me, my experience behind the wheel of the NISMO LEAF RC on a racetrack is limited. However, I did get a chance to drive it for a couple of laps in Quebec, while we conducted some tests. It was pouring rain and therefore, I was very cautious.

The feeling on board is very different from a traditional racecar, mainly due to the sound. There are many sounds in the cockpit, because there is no isolation to make it soundproof. First, until you press the accelerator pedal, it is very silent - no engine revving at low rpms. Then, as soon as the speed increases, the whistling of the two electric motors totally invades the cabin. Despite what I anticipated, it's very noisy inside, particularly due to the fact you can hear all the mechanics, transmission, and braking sounds, which are usually covered by the engine noise in an internal combustion engine (ICE) race car.  

I didn't push it on the track, but all the lucky people who got a chance to drive it on a dry track said the same thing – and LEAF owners can relate - that it is extremely powerful, with all the torque immediately available. As is the case with all electric cars, its very light, very easy to handle, easy to positon in corners, and the braking is extremely powerful. In fact, when you forget about the fact that the power is electric, and the symphony of new sounds, it handles and drives exactly like any racecar -FAST!

Q:         As someone with an abundance of experience in motorsport, how do you see the future looking for professional racing in the future?

A:         There are currently many discussions about the future of motorsport, and the place that electric racing could take in the future. The Formula E World championship (100 per cent electric, single seater racing) just ended its fifth season in New York in July, with a first victory for the Nissan e-Dams team.

This Formula E championship is growing in popularity and significance every year. The races are action packed, offering a superb show, attracting more and more fans every year all over the world. I believe we can expect electric racing to grow in the years ahead. This said, I do not see electric racing completely replacing traditional ICE racing, but more being a complement to it. I think both styles of racing will continue to evolve. More and more traditional Championships are using hybrid engines, Formula One for example. There are fans for both.

There will be always motorsport fans who want to hear the powerful growl of a V6 or V8 engine. Now others will enjoy seeing electric cars racing in [near] silence.

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Issued by Nissan


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