They make limos out of anything these days. Stretch a Corvette? Maximize a Mini? No problem.
But how do you stretch a Nissan Leaf, with a lithium ion battery module the size of a kitchen table top integrated into its floorpan?
Imperial Coach Builders of Springfield, Mo., will begin making Leaf conversions this month with an eye toward supplying zero-emission limos to green-conscious fleet customers.
But it's no standard slice-and-stretch job, concedes Tom Catterson, Imperial's director of marketing. The company's engineering staff first had to tear apart a Leaf to figure out where the car could be cut in half without interfering with the battery structure. It turns out that the saw line will zigzag across the car directly behind the driver's seat.
The other challenge was weight. The Leaf's lightweight architecture allows the battery to deliver 80 to 100 miles of driving. But as a stretch limo, Imperial intends to add another four passengers' worth of rear seating--meaning another 4 feet of car with more weight and less battery range.
The solution? Working with Liberty Electric Cars, an electric-vehicle conversion firm in the United Kingdom, Imperial will integrate a second lithium ion battery into the Leaf limo.
"It will end up with about the same battery range," Catterson says. "It's going to make a great limo."
(Source: Automotive News)