Instead, the 2011 Leaf, driven by veteran Nissan off-road truck racing champion Chad Hord, will be a car fresh off the factory floor--save for a few interior trim items that will be swapped out for such safety features as a roll cage and a 5-point seat belt.
The Leaf's 80-kW electric motor isn't exactly whiplash-inducing, with only 107 horsepower and 207 lb-ft of torque. But Nissan's Ron Stukenberg, senior manager of Motorsports Marketing Communications, stood by the decision.
“This is another innovative way to showcase the fun-to-drive nature of the Nissan Leaf," he said. And it highlights that fully electric vehicles "perform very well in demanding situations like the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb."
"The instant torque available from the electric motor makes the Leaf a fun car to drive," Stukenberg continued, "and the abundance of corners on the hill climb will give Chad a chance to take advantage of that torque.”
Other cars and drivers at the event include the Dacia 850 hp GT-R driven by Jean-Philippe Dayraut, Steve Bach the Mayor of Colorado Springs will be buckling up in the Porsche Pace Car, and Rod Millen will be driving a Hyundai Genesis Coupe.
This year's Pike's Peak climb will be an interesting event, all right.