Nissan Engineers Create an All-Electric Micro Pickup

Sparky leaf_truck II

We recently spent some time with Rich Miller, chief engineer of the next Nissan Titan. He gave us a full tour of his old stomping grounds around Phoenix, where his family has lived for several generations. One of the places he was most proud of, however, was the Nissan Technical Center in Stanfield (just south of Maricopa).

While we were there, we noticed a funny little pickup-looking beast in the corner of Nissan's fully air-conditioned testing bays (thank goodness because it was 112 degrees outside). When we asked about it, our tour guide just smiled and said, "That's our little Frankenstein — we call him Sparky." Now, based on a recent Nissan press release (link), it looks like Nissan has let the micro pickup out of the lab.

The Nissan team members responsible for Sparky are Roland Schellenberg and Arnold Moulinet, and like many test engineers who spend much of their time away from family and friends doing highly technical work at remote proving ground facilities, they needed a lot of play time. The result is an all-electric Nissan Leaf-Frontier cross-pollenization that sports a heavily modified pickup bed on the back and a clever integrated rear tailgate. The Stanfield team uses it as a shop truck to haul materials around the facility.

Does this mean we'll see a Nissan electric pickup anytime soon? Probably not, but we're guessing all that extreme high-heat testing experience the engineering team gained with this vehicle will not go to waste. The low-desert hot-weather environment is perfect for testing the battery pack, engine cooling and air conditioning of an electric vehicle. The trucklet doesn't rank too high in either of the form or function categories, but it is an interesting concept. We'll have to see how soon it will be before we can get behind the wheel and find our more about its capabilities and battery range.

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Sparky LT1_4_714 II

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They would be better off putting those resources and creative ideas into new Titan and/or Frontier.

We need for pickup new like this and not about vans. I think putc should at least include large suvs like the tahoe and expedition over vans.

Loco, I agree they should cover full size or trucky SUV's. They cover the 50K Crew cab pickups but not the SUV's. They rarely cover the long bed work trucks which is more of a work vechile like a cargo van.

It was probably a fun experiment for the team. Hopefully they learned some things about utility and space efficiency along the way that could be useful in both the Titan and Frontier.

I think some better packaging of the interiors could allow for similar volume to today's trucks but use maybe 2-4 fewer inches of wheelbase which might make the trucks fit into garages easier and/or make turning radius smaller. All the little intangible things add up and differentiate the user experience.

Maybe as a Raptor/ SRT / SS / Lightning competitor the next Titan can use the GTR drive train :) if it fits in the Juke it can most certainly fit in the Titan.

lol. Bed is way too shallow.

The GM guys are at it again with the SUV drumbeat. There are already hundreds of sites that cover SUVs. Go there if you want that.

This does not qualify as a truck to me. This is a car with a box on back. Seriously what is this thing going to be able to haul and tow?

They would be better off putting those resources and creative ideas into new Titan and/or Frontier.

Posted by: Gregory J. | Sep 19, 2014 10:10:20 AM


Maybe someone can use it as a clown car in a parade.

Looks big enough to haul a washer or dryer in the back, or you could put you dead deer in their after a successful hunt.

they threw it together out of spare parts and use it to ferry equipment around. sounds perfect for THEIR needs.

Ok bend over

Does the leaf have to be that ugly to be efficient?

And at truck this small, should a least have a 3 seater bench seat.

I'd love to see a 3 seater, RWD, mini truck come into the market. Sure.. EV would be great as no-towing, light hauling truck.

It's great to see your name after years?

Even here in Australia the bench seat seems to have been put out to pasture.

Some of the most basic commercial vehicles have a 'sort of bench seat' a 2.5 seat which isn't comfortable for 3 across seating and that's in a midsize vehicle.

I suspect this Leaf ute will be quite full with 2 across seating.

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