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Nissan Leaf into something else.

6925 Views 21 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  brian_
Hi all, I have been driving a 2014 Nissan Leaf for the past 2 years. It's a good car, but I miss my Nissan Navara pickup truck. The Leaf can't Tow, has no roof rack, no load bed for chucking junk into etc etc.
So, I have a Leaf, I can get a pick up with a blown engine in excellent condition (Navara D40 engines are seriously floored...).

Can it be done? I know that a mere 107BHP with 210lbft torque is going to be a bit weak, but, can I get a different controller/motor and keep the Leaf battery pack to run it?

Thanks for any pointers
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Leaf can't Tow
What are you talking about?!? EV's make great tractors!

http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/how-much-can-nissan-leaf-tow-feats-towing-31477.html

edit, incredulity aside, welcome to diyelectriccar.


here is a leaf with a 2000 lb payload accelerating up a hill from a dead stop
https://youtu.be/Xjwu6v65Pd8?t=50
I should have said that it is not rated for towing.

The thing is that I am currently at a crossroads.

Do I keep my reservation for my Tesla Model 3, or do I strip the Leaf, and spend way less than the cost of the Tesla on something that I can actually use?

I know that full electric pick ups will be here, but probably not for another 4 years.

I will never go back to fossil powered vehicles, and to me, a hybrid is a step in completely the wrong direction.
not rated doesn't really mean anything in the states, except if you are a truck enthusiast and want to feel "superior" while driving a horribly inefficient brick everywhere "just in case". But for efficiencies sake (and cost) a trailer is absolutely the best way to go in %99.999 of cases.

And I don't understand your logic, if you wish to imply that the leaf driveline is not suitable for towing (even though there is no evidence of that), how is putting it in a different body going to help?

I don't know what you are asking for since it sounds subjective and not evidence based.

I mean it is fine if you like trucks, but don't be throwing shade on trailers, because it really is just bs.
The trailer or towing issue is all down to UK Law. The Leaf wasn't type approved in the UK to be able to tow.

I wasn't against trailers, as it would help if I could tow.
Forgive me, but are you certain? stability is largely a function of tractor weight vs trailer, and the leaf is pretty heavy. Also being lower to the ground it would probably be more stable than the same weight in a pickup.

I see where they mention "rating" but I don't see where it is law, got a UK code number or something?

http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-ne...laws-weights-capacities-tow-cars-and-top-tips
The trailer or towing issue is all down to UK Law. The Leaf wasn't type approved in the UK to be able to tow.
When you remove the original engine and fuel tank from a Navara and replace them with an electric motor and battery, does the type approval for towing still apply?
I have looked further into this. The tow issue on the Leaf is down to the type approval in the UK. No one makes a tow bar for the Leaf with the correct standards stamped into it, as required for all vehicles manufactured after 1998. This is because Nissan gave it a Zero KG rating.

As for changing the propulsion type and if it can still tow in the Navara, I need to look into that.
I have looked further into this. The tow issue on the Leaf is down to the type approval in the UK.
Nissan's reason for this is probably that performance of the electric powertrain under towing loads would not be acceptable, but it might be that there is insufficient rear suspension capacity to handle the hitch load (in addition to the battery pack). I don't think it's accidental that the Leaf body style - despite being a hatchback - minimizes the cargo room available; they don't want you to try to carry very much. That doesn't really matter in a way, because...
No one makes a tow bar for the Leaf with the correct standards stamped into it, as required for all vehicles manufactured after 1998. This is because Nissan gave it a Zero KG rating.
This is the practical issue. Even if you were willing to operate with unapproved components, the usual fix of adapting a towbar from a related vehicle presumably won't work, because the Leaf doesn't share body structure with another Nissan model (as far as I know), the way many hybrids and some EVs are based on gas-engined models. For instance, even if an eGolf isn't rated for towing, a regular Golf towbar probably fits.

Whether or not a Navara would really be suitable for towing with a Leaf powertrain, in practical terms it seems likely that no one would bother you about towing with it, and there are certainly towbars available.

As for changing the propulsion type and if it can still tow in the Navara, I need to look into that.
The question is really whether the control system can limit power to avoid overheating the motor, controller/inverter, or battery... or whether you are patient and diligent enough to do that yourself. And, of course, there's the question of range with the motor working much harder than it does in a non-towing Leaf.


Do you have a spare Leaf? :rolleyes: A complete Leaf powertrain (motor with inverter and gearbox) in each end of a Navara would be well-suited to the load of the heavier vehicle with cargo, :D although the chassis wouldn't have much payload if you squeezed in both battery packs.
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as a practical matter the issue is bureaucracy. People tow with leafs all the time
http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?t=13428

Hell even the manufacturers basically ask customers "how much are you towing" when coming up with the ratings, and pander to the high margin truck crowd.

Trying to turn it into "the engineering of towing with a leaf" discussion is just silly, you throw a tow bar on it and use some common sense.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/CURT-Manufa...ash=item21261ab892:g:VPwAAOSwX61ZDG9q&vxp=mtr
Can it be done?
With regards to Leaf towing a lot will depend on where you are based... UK/EU law differs greatly from other jurisdictions for example.

With regards to reusing Leaf components then sure that's possible... here's a great thread to start;

http://www.diyelectriccar.com/forums/showthread.php?t=151458

User skooler would also be a useful resource if you're in the UK.
Maybe I am looking at this completely the wrong way. I was looking at the Navara, as it was practical for throwing logs in the back of, running my on board air compressor, 230V inverter, various tools, front and rear winches etc. If I buy the Model 3, then it will cost me £30K. For £5K I can a pick up in really good condition with a dead engine/gearbox etc.
I want to use the Leaf cells, as I have a Leaf to use the parts from. I completely get the issues with the pickup aerodynamics, and the 2 motor suggestion.
I am trying to keep this simple, and from my very limited experience, I would like to get a suitable motor and controller to mate with the Leaf cells in whatever voltage combination.
I know I can just bolt a motor to the existing transmission, but that seems so full of parasitic losses. The diesel motor that the electric motor would replace would have similar rev ranges, but I don't know about the torque/BHP curve on the DC motors.
Ideally, I would want a motor which would make this light the tyres up in low gears, but perhaps keep the economy about 500W per mile. With Leaf cells, that would give me a realistic range of about 50 miles. I can always add more cells, or build my own 18650 based packs when time allows.
I can't really work out from the youtube videos if the DC motor conversions are any good on the pickups. They all seem to be driven really gently, with no open road wide open throttle tests.
I know that the Zombie 222 goes like a scalded cat on DC, but to have that under a pickup would be bonkers! Even a 5 second 0-60MPH, in what was a 12 second diesel, would be incredible.

Would anyone know what the maximum discharge current is for the Leaf cells? I would guess at 4C, so on a 66AH pack, I could pull a theoretical 264AH at 360V (roughly 90KW). I say guess, as the Leaf motor pulls 80KW at full throttle, and there must be a safety margin.
If I double up on the cells to create another parallel pack, then with 160KW (215BHP) motor on a 44KWH usable battery at 500W per mile, it would give me a respectable 85-90 mile range.

TIA
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as a practical matter the issue is bureaucracy. People tow with leafs all the time
http://www.mynissanleaf.com/viewtopic.php?t=13428...
Sure, in North America, where there is absolutely no regulation of towing equipment or tow vehicle towing capacity. The situation in at least most of Europe is different, with quite high trailer weights allowed, but with more regulations.
I am trying to keep this simple, and from my very limited experience, I would like to get a suitable motor and controller to mate with the Leaf cells in whatever voltage combination.
Take a look at Damien's (user jackbauer) website which has lots EV projects using various battery cells (including Leaf) and motors. Damien has undertaken both direct drive and transmission based solutions;

http://www.evbmw.com

You might also take a look at the evwest conversion kits;

http://www.evwest.com/catalog/index.php?cPath=40&osCsid=h2jdq3aev8e0stck81euu4vl23

I also hear good things about the EV4U 3 day courses which would answer many of your questions;

http://ev4unow.com

If you're in the UK I'd be happy to show you around my EV workshop if you're quick (we're in the process of moving it to the US).
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FYI, I am putting a leaf motor in a VW LT which will be towing so......
Sure, in North America, where there is absolutely no regulation of towing equipment or tow vehicle towing capacity.
A. that is false. i.e. http://actiondonation.org/state-by-state-rv-and-towing-law/ and also on the liability end if you have exceeded hitch capacity for example, or under the umbrella of not securing a load.

B. It is almost %100 self regulated here with the pervasive attitude here that you shouldn't tow with anything less than a sherman tank. You hardly ever see a car towing here, but you will see millions of pick-ups on the road with zero payload.
A. that is false. i.e. http://actiondonation.org/state-by-state-rv-and-towing-law/ and also on the liability end if you have exceeded hitch capacity for example, or under the umbrella of not securing a load.
It's true that I should not have said that there is no regulation of towing equipment, as there are regulations calling the use of specific equipment - safety chains and brakes. How that equipment is designed and constructed is a free-for-all. The well-known standards (the old VESC V-5 and current SAE J684) are not regulations.

There are laws about the equipment on the trailer, and the weight of the trailer relative to the tow vehicle; however, they have nothing to do with the rated capacity of the tow vehicle. V-5 and J684 say nothing about the vehicle itself or even how a hitch is attached to the vehicle. If you want to tow a ten-ton trailer with your Geo Metro - using of course a hitch rated for the trailer load but attached with only a few sheet metal screws - you can legally go for it... as long as the tongue weight is kept low so the Metro isn't over GVWR or rear GAWR. :rolleyes:

To be fair, some jurisdictions which have requirements that the tow vehicle and trailer rig be able to stop within some (generously long) prescribed distance from some (laughably slow) speed... but trailer brakes alone make that easy to achieve.

In more practical and relevant terms...
A Leaf can probably safely tow a trailer weighing a ton or two, if the trailer is equipped with suitably controlled brakes. As far as I can see, it can legally do that in any state or province, despite the zero towing rating by Nissan. Reliability of the Leaf is another matter, and not the subject of legislation. At the same time, a Smart ForTwo which absolutely cannot handle two tons of trailer (and is also has a zero rating) is equally legal.

If an inadequate rig fails, and causes property damage or injury to a third party, the most likely legal consequence is a civil lawsuit... not a violation of a regulation. Even if all the parts and practices involved as within ratings and meet standards, a civil action can find the operator at fault - there's not much reason here, just legal precedent and public opinion. In any case, if the rig doesn't crash, the towing stupidity is allowed without restriction.

As I understand European regulations, the existence on the road of a trailer attached to a vehicle by a hitch without type approval (specific to the vehicle) is a violation, no matter how appropriate the rig or well-constructed the hitch. I actually don't see a problem with this, as the well-constructed rigs which are prevented from operating by this bureaucracy must be much less common than the unsafe piles of crap allowed by our rules here.
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FYI, I am putting a leaf motor in a VW LT which will be towing so......
Have you got a link? Would be very interested
There may not be any specific laws to regulate towing a trailer (or another vehicle etc) in your area, but most authorities/countries have overarching laws for such things as ..."Operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner". ..
Or.....Using an illegally modified vehicle on a public highway".. Etc
(The illegal modification being fitting a non approved tow bar !!)
Just be aware , whilst there may seem to be loopholes for us to exploit, the law also has various obscure "catchall" regulations they can call on if they feel you are being a dick !
There may not be any specific laws to regulate towing a trailer (or another vehicle etc) in your area, but most authorities/countries have overarching laws for such things as ..."Operating a vehicle in an unsafe manner". ..
Or.....Using an illegally modified vehicle on a public highway".. Etc
(The illegal modification being fitting a non approved tow bar !!)
Just be aware , whilst there may seem to be loopholes for us to exploit, the law also has various obscure "catchall" regulations they can call on if they feel you are being a dick !
The towing rules here are pretty much like anywhere in North America... but I get the point.

The thing is, no one is trying to be a dick, but doing exactly the same reasonable thing (bolting appropriate hardware onto a Leaf and towing a properly equipped and reasonably sized trailer with it) is legal here and not legal in Europe.

A non-approved hitch receiver isn't illegal here, because there is no approval of hitches. A non-approved towbar is illegal there, because all towbars must be specifically approved and used in an approved combination with the tow vehicle.
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