A group of Nissan engineers volunteered for six months to double a standard Leaf’s battery capacity to 48 kilowatt hours, and they’ve already been successful in competing with it. Nissan is certainly no stranger to motorsports, but the Spanish ECOseries prioritizes efficiency rather than speed.

The team ripped out the rear seats, which gave them room to mount a second battery. The members dubbed the creation Cocoon after the energy-filled rounded rocks in the 1985 sci-fi movie. The crew is tight-lipped about the vehicle’s specs, but the extra 24 kWh capacity over a base Leaf increases driving range by 75 percent. The crew now should be able to cover 217 miles (349 kilometers) on a charge, versus 124 miles (200 km) in stock form in the NEDC test.

Engineers at the Nissan Technical Centre in Barcelona, Spain, came up with the project. They formed a group called the Nissan Innovation Team and started spending nights and weekends on the undertaking. Check out the video above to see the higher-capacity Leaf on the track.

The team’s work echoes Nissan’s own endeavor to build a greener Leaf. The next-gen model reportedly uses a 60 kWh battery pack and a range of at least 214 miles (344 km). Expect the new one have a futuristic look like the IDS concept rather than the current model’s rounded design.

Source: Nissan

Gallery: Nissan Leaf 48 kWh Project

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Nissan employees create prototype 48 kWh LEAF, doubling the capacity of the  production 24 kWh model

Technicians formed from Nissan’s Innovation team worked on the project during evenings and weekends

The prototype participated in several ECOseries events, showcasing its increased range and demonstrating Nissan’s commitment to its vision for Intelligent Mobility

Barcelona, SPAIN, 21st July 2016: In a demonstration of their passion for innovation, Nissan engineers have created a prototype Nissan LEAF with a 48 kWh battery – in their spare time.

Following the manufacturer’s principles of on-going research and development of electric vehicles, the 48 kWh prototype carries a battery twice the size of the original Nissan LEAF production model, with a 75 percent increase in driving range in everyday conditions.

It was created by a group of engineers at Nissan’s Technical Centre in Barcelona (NTCE-S), whose passion and commitment to their work has given rise to the Nissan Innovation team. The team of volunteers take on a range of exciting endeavours, pushing the boundaries of what is possible with electric vehicle technology.

The prototype, codenamed “Cocoon” in reference to the American sci-fi film of the same name, was built to compete in the Spanish motorsport event, ECOseries - a new initiative which rewards “efficiency and fuel economy rather than outright speed.”

Dario Fernandez, Senior Engineer at NTCE-S, said: “It has been a great privilege to work on this project and to see our finished prototype race in the ECOseries. We all have a real passion for what we do and being able to work on prototype projects gives us the creative freedom to be as innovative and forward-thinking as we possibly can.

“Battery range improvement is important to the on-going adoption of electric vehicles, so this was a great opportunity to utilise our knowledge of zero-emissions technology to look at how battery range could potentially be extended in this particular application.”

Gareth Dunsmore, Director of Electric Vehicles at Nissan Europe, said: "As a pioneer of the electric vehicle market, Nissan has consistently innovated and advanced its technology to remain at the forefront of the zero emission sector. Whilst there are no plans to put this prototype into production, it serves as a useful exercise in thinking outside the box, something our engineers and designers do on a daily basis. The Nissan LEAF 48 kWh showcases the passion our employees have for their work.”

These extra-curricular projects feed in to Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility vision and allow employees to draw on their expertise, skills and experience to experiment with technology, design and engineering. The Intelligent Mobility framework informs all of Nissan’s future products and technologies, with the aim of developing a smart, connected, sustainable zero emission transport network.

Nissan introduced the Nissan LEAF as the world’s first mass-market, 100 percent electric vehicle in 2010. Since then, the auto-manufacturer has continued to design and produce innovative zero emission solutions, including the e-NV200 pure electric light commercial vehicle and a longer range LEAF with a 30 kWh battery.