Engineers have cobbled together an electric Nissan Leaf ute for use around the company’s technical centre in Stanfield, Arizona.
Dubbed Sparky, the Leaf ute was dreamt up by Nissan engineer Roland Schellenberg, who wanted a fun, yet practical, team building activity. Co-worker Arnold Moulinet then came up with the design and engineering specifications for this one-off creation.
To create Sparky, Schellenberg and Moulinet’s team cut the roof off just aft of the B-pillar, and removed everything at the rear above the shoulder line. After welding the doors shut and removing the visible traces of their existence, the team then had to get creative.
It is a Nissan LEAF crossed with a Nissan Frontier, brought to life by Nissan's Roland Schellenberg and Arnold Moulinet. Sparky is a one-of-a-kind creation with a specific mission in life. He supports operations at Nissan's proving grounds located on 3,050 acres in Stanfield, Arizona.
For the cargo area, Sparky uses a modified version of the tray liner from the Frontier ute, which is known as the Navara in Australia and the rest of the world. According to the engineers, the Frontier’s liner was exactly the right length, but they had to remove around 250mm widthwise and about 100mm from its height to make it fit in the rear of the Leaf.
To separate the cabin from the bed, and the elements too, the team welded in the rear window and divider from the Titan, a full-size pickup truck designed to compete with the Ford F-150 and Chevrolet Silverado.
Being a slick truck, and not so tough, I see it as a boy - but a boy with a heart. It's something that we all put together. We all share. So it has a little bit of everybody in there," said Schellenberg.
At the rear, the Leaf ute retains the indicators and reversing light from the original hatchback. LED brake light units have been installed into the reflector cut-outs in the lower portion of the rear bumper.
Given the unusual tail-light arrangement and a note on the video, which states the electric ute is used to “haul supplies and people around on the tech center property”, we’re guessing that Sparky isn’t entirely road legal.
Wedged in between the region’s sprawling fields, Nissan’s Arizona technical centre is located on a 13 square-kilometre property around 70km south of Phoenix. With a 9.2km high-speed proving track and a variety of accompanying road courses, the site is Nissan North America’s in-house hot weather testing facility.