Nissan engineers have crossed an all-electric Leaf with a Frontier to create the world’s first Leaf ute. They call it Sparky, we call it cool (with video).

HERE IN AUSTRALIA we love our utes; all the benefits and driving dynamics of a sedan with the functionality of a proper work vehicle. And it seems we’re not the only ones, because in the last year or so, engineers have been turning out one-offs at a rapid rate with the most notable in immediate memory being the Mini Paceman that was converted into a ute to become the Mini Paceman Adventure.

Well, now Nissan has added to the list with its conversion of a Nissan Leaf into a ute which engineers use to “haul supplies and people around on the tech centre property [Nissan’s Technical Center (sic) in Stanfield, Arizona US]”. It’s called Sparky and is, essentially, an all-electric Nissan Leaf crossed with a Nissan Frontier.

Nissan Leaf ute revealed

“We tried to keep it a secret and be exciting for everybody. But we have visitors and they come and they see that truck and they go straight to ‘what is it?’ and they start looking at it, and it makes great conversation,” said Roland Schellenberg, Nissan Durability and Reliability in a statement.

“I needed a project for a team building activity. We had a need for a truck. Something to drive around, a shop truck,” he said.

Nissan Leaf ute revealed

It took months to build Sparky, according to Schellenberg who worked alongside fellow engineer Arnold Moulinet (pictured together above) to make the project a reality.

“After he (Schellenberg) told us it was going to be the LEAF that we would redo, I went home and stayed up till like four in the morning making all kinds of designs for what would work. We basically got the stock LEAF, and after reviewing a bunch of designs of pickup trucks that we have here at Nissan, we decided to go with a Frontier bed.

“My main job here is working on rough-road vehicles, rough-road testing. I’m pretty good at taking cars completely apart to the bare frame and putting them back together again to resume testing,” said Moulinet.

So, will Sparky make it into production? No. But it is a much-loved member of the engineering team: “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.


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