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Nissan Leaf becomes a limo

Nashville hotel commissions construction of the first Leaf limousine

Published: July 18, 2012, 5:00 PM

2012 Nissan Leaf limousine

It had to happen. Everything from a Hummer to a Toyota Prius has been turned into a limousine.

So why not a Nissan Leaf?

The Embassy Suites hotel in Nashville, Tennessee needed a new shuttle vehicle for its guests. Trip lengths are typically no more than eight kilometres away from the hotel, so range isn't an issue. So it's an ideal application for an electric vehicle.

The hotel chain is committed to luxury and being green, and Leafs will soon be built at Nissan's assembly plant in Smyrna, just outside Nashville. So a Leaf limo seemed a natural fit.

The hotel contracted a company based in Missouri to modify a production Leaf. They kept most of its essential parts intact, including its battery pack, although it now sits in the rear for balance.

The conversion added a new mid-section for additional seating, as well as mirrors, plush leather and cedar paneling of the type expected in luxury limos, increasing the car's mass by almost 200 kg.

"This is the world's first road-worthy, licenced, street-legal electric limousine," said Trevor Goulding, director of sales for Embassy Suites Nashville South.

The hotel's shuttle driver, Phillip Huckelba said he is surprised how well the conversion worked. It fits a total of eight adults, including the driver, comfortably. "I think it will catch on once the word is out there. It always takes one to get something started," he said.

Krystal Serrano, who was the first passenger in the Leaf limo had never ridden in an electric vehicle before. "It feels so smooth," she said. "You can't even really hear the engine running, but it wasn't like being in a golf cart either. It was like being in a limousine."