What do you get when you cross a Nissan Leaf with a pickup truck?
Nissan has a unique way of approaching corporate team-building exercises. Where most companies might build a bike, Nissan’s engineers build a car. That car is Sparky the all-electric ute (utility coupe), a green car that’s used as a parts hauler at Nissan’s Reliability Group in Stanfield, Arizona. Although this cool little car probably won’t ever become commercially available, it’s too cool not to cover.
In case it’s not obvious from the front-end, this eco-friendly cargo hauler started life as a conventional Nissan Leaf. It’s the brainchild of Rolland Schellenberg and Arnold Moulinet, two head durability and reliability engineers at the expansive Stanfield premises. It started when Moulinet had to kill two birds with one stone – he needed a team-building project and a small truck to haul parts around the Reliability Group’s sprawling campus. He instantly thought of a Leaf pickup, and after a bit of research with Mr. Schellenberg, he knew it could be done.
To build Sparky, the engineers took the body of a Nissan Leaf and fused it with the cab of a Titan and the bed of a Frontier. The project took several months, not made any shorter by the fact that neither engineer held back on the bells and whistles. In the video at the bottom of this post, you’ll see how they added a power rear-window to the back of the cab and woody-style beams along the truck’s bed.
On top of that, Sparky is fully wired with head- and taillights, and has a surprisingly stylish finish with a voluptuous rear-end and distinct rear spoiler.
Apparently, Schellenberg and the rest of Nissan’s humble engineers actually wanted to keep their creation a secret, but visitors to the Stanfield center had other ideas. “We tried to keep it a secret and be exciting for everybody. But we have visitors and they come and they see that track and they go straight to ‘What is it?’”
For those of you food like to create your own version of Sparky the Leaf-based ute, all you have to do is spend years in the field of rough-road vehicle testing. Moulinet explained that his “main job here is working on rough-road vehicles … I’m pretty good at taking cars completely apart the bare frame and putting them back together again to resume testing.”
To hear the full story of how Sparky came to be, watch the video below: