Could a high-performance Nissan Leaf steal the mighty GT-R’s lunch money?

Nissan’s next performance flagship could run on electricity rather than horsepower, according to one of the brand’s top executives. The Japanese firm is experimenting with ways to reliably extract jaw-dropping power figures from its battery-electric components, and we could see the result in showrooms — as well as on the race track — during the 2020s.

The original Leaf hatchback released in 2010 stood out as the first modern, mass-market electric car. Nissan focused on affordability, range, and practicality at the expense of performance when it designed the second-generation model, but a team within its go-fast Nismo division is trying to unlock its potential. The company is testing the Leaf-derived RC 02 on a makeshift race track in Japan to explore which components should remain at the prototype stage, and which ones are eligible to make the transition to production.

On paper, the RC 02 (pictured) has already planted its flag in supercar territory. Two upgraded Leaf motors draw electricity from a 62-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack to zap the four wheels with 321 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of instant torque. These components are installed in an expensive carbon fiber tub, which isn’t likely to make it beyond the one-off stage for cost reasons, but the rest of the hardware could come together into a high-voltage flagship capable of leaving the 2017 Nissan GT-R Premium review in the dust.

Motohiro Matsumura, Nismo’s chief operating officer, told The Drive that Nissan’s next-generation electric car — which is tentatively called IDS — could receive many powertrain parts from the RC 02. “After 2020, we might have a production motor with [214 hp], two of them would bring [430 hp]. With that, it is possible that the IDS beats the Nissan GT-R,” he predicted.

The entire industry will sit up and take notice if Nissan releases a GT-R-beating, 430-hp electric car. And yet, that model could end up looking puny next to the flagship model Matsumura has in mind.

“Quad motors are possible, even highly probable,” he teased. In this configuration, each 214-hp motor would presumably spin one of the car’s wheels. The setup would deliver through-the-road all-wheel drive and approximately 850 hp, a figure which would make the model Nissan’s most powerful road car to date. Acceleration will depend on the material used to build the car, and the type of battery it’s fitted with.

Where does this leave the GT-R? The coupe — whose performance chops have earned it the nickname Godzilla — will return for at least one more generation in the coming years, but it’s unlikely to feature any kind of electrification. Speaking with Motor1, chief product specialist Hiroshi Tamura revealed GT-R buyers have no interest in a hybrid model, partly because the technology would make the coupe much heavier and much more expensive.

Cars

ABS brakes helped airlines make more money before they helped you stop

ABS -- a technology that prevents cars from skidding under heavy braking -- has been around since the 1950s, when it was first applied to airplanes. Chrysler and Bendix jointly get credit for developing four-wheel electronic ABS in 1971.
Cars

Fiat wants to transform the cheeky 500 city car into an urban Tesla

Fiat is finally preparing a new 500. Scheduled to make its debut in early 2020, the retro-chic city car will go electric in part to comply with looming emissions regulations.
Cars

Lexus will reinvent its design language as it electrifies its full line

Lexus plans to release an electrified version of every nameplate in its lineup by the year 2025. The term electrified is broad; it includes hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric, and hydrogen cars.
Cars

Bentley EXP 100 GT concept sports futuristic tech in a Steampunk wrapper

Bentley celebrated its 100th birthday with the unveiling of a new concept car. The Bentley EXP 100 GT boasts an all-electric powertrain, sustainably sourced interior materials, and a sophisticated digital assistant.
Smart Home

Amazon cuts prices of ChargePoint, JuiceBox, and Siemens home EV chargers

Amazon cut the prices on ChargePoint, JuiceBox, and Siemens Level 2 electric vehicle (EV) home chargers to help plug-in vehicle drivers recharge their car batteries much faster than plugging into a regular home electrical outlet.
Cars

The Rev-1 delivery robot is fast enough to hit the bike lane

Tootling into view is yet another wheel-based delivery robot, this one from U.S. startup Refraction A.I. The Rev-1 is designed for last-mile deliveries and is said to be faster and cheaper than many of its rivals.
Cars

10 crazy technologies and innovations banned from Formula One

Formula One prides itself on being at the pinnacle of racing technology, but that means teams sometimes push things over the edge. Here are 10 examples of tech that was banned from Formula One.
Cars

Volkswagen and Ford confirm partnership on electric cars, autonomous driving

Volkswagen and Ford have confirmed a major tech-sharing deal. It will give Ford access to VW's MEB platform, which will underpin many of the German automaker's future electric cars. The Ford MEB electric car launches in 2023.
Cars

2020 Buick Enclave three-row crossover will give you a back massage

The 2020 Buick Enclave gets a number of small updates, including massaging front seats and a new infotainment system compatible with SiriusXM's 360L streaming service. The updated Buick Enclave goes on sale later this summer.
Deals

Amazon Prime Day 2019 deal dishes 15% discount on the Garmin Dash Cam 55

Amazon Prime Day 2019 promises great discounts on lots of items. Aside from the usual gadgets and appliances, deals for the Garmin Dash Cam 55 and other automotive tech products are also popping up.
Cars

How selectable driving modes are able to turn your car from Dr Jekyll to Mr Hyde

If you don’t have unlimited cash to spend on buying a whole stable of cars to fit every need and occasion, you’re going to need your current car to fill multiple roles.
Cars

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Drone lens, laser synth, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Cars

You can unlock Lincoln’s massive 2020 Navigator with your phone

The 2020 Lincoln Navigator adds a phone-as-key feature that lets the driver use a smartphone in place of a traditional key fob. Other changes for 2020 include more standard convenience features, and some new trim packages.
Cars

Best automotive deals for Amazon Prime Day

Christmas in July has arrived again with Prime Day 2019, and we're here to be your Santa Claus for all things car tech. We scoured through all the best deals for this non-bank holiday to find you the very best swag to keep your ride on the…