(Here's a little glimpse into what's in our blog)
After years of interest in electric vehicles and owning several Nissan Figaros, the idea was born to create an electric Nissan Figaro using parts of a Nissan Leaf to make the Fig-Leaf as authentic as possible. Having researched many existing conversions, we visited Fully Charged Live in 2019 to ask the experts. Several companies who convert classic cars to electric confirmed that because of power losses from the Figaro's automatic gearbox, you would not be able to get very good range by simply swapping out the engine for a motor as has been tried in the past.
So this got me thinking: What if you swapped the whole drive system? My online research led to Damien Maguire's YouTube channels and as luck would have it, he was running an EV conversion course in October 2019 which I attended and learned the basics needed to start the conversion.
Thankfully, we were able to source a 2013 Nissan Leaf from a scrappage auction and so began the gruelling process of removing the components needed for the conversion. Once that was done, we set about reassembling and testing the electronic drive system outside of the vehicle. So far so good.
Around this time I touched base with a friend from the conversion course back in 2019. His expertise in vehicle restoration combined with the progress I was making would prove to be a winning formula. We decided to team up and then the project really started moving!
Once the Leaf's drive system was installed into the Figaro, we decided to see if we could get the car to move. Because the Leaf uses such a large high voltage battery, we needed to find a test battery that could handle just enough power to get the car moving and make sure everything fitted correctly. My experience with making e-bike batteries was pushed to its limit when we needed to make 8 large custom e-bike batteries to produce enough power to move the Figaro... but sure enough, it did just that...
...and then the really hard part began. We needed to find a way to fit the rest of the 1,600kg Leaf drive system into the 800kg Figaro. Sounds easy... right... After months of design work and fabrication, we finally found a way to fit the entire Leaf battery pack into the Figaro, but this unfortunately required a lot of modifications to the car. This was a challenge even for the expert fabricators we now had on board with the project, but after a lot of time and money was spent making the car fit the battery, we were finally ready to install everything.
But time was marching on. Lockdowns, travel restrictions and design complications had put the project way behind schedule. Could we get the car ready in time for the Figaro's 30th birthday celebration? Would we be welcome with our newly electrified driving machine? Here's a quick video of what happened...
Now we are getting the car ready for its first electric MOT. It still needs the charger and battery management system installing as well as the power steering, but hopefully the Fig-Leaf should be on the road very soon!