July 19, 2012 at 3:11 PM ET
Don’t be surprised if eco-conscious celebrities ditch their Priuses and show up at next year’s Academy Awards in Nissan Leaf limousines.
The first such all-electric limo has already hit the circuit, running short trips for VIPs staying at an Embassy Suites hotel in Franklin, Tenn.
Why there? It happens to be a short jaunt to the Nissan North America office, reports the Tennessean.
The Leaf conversion was done by Limoland.com in Springfield, Mo. To do it, they cut a Leaf in half and added aluminum to stretch the car into a comfortable ride for eight passengers.
Enhancements include mirrors, plush leather seats, and cedar paneling. Extra weight is about 400 pounds.
The battery for the all-electric limo is the same as in the stock Leaf, though it has been moved to the back for better balance. Limoland.com said the car gets about 100 miles per charge.
"The range is affected" by the enhancements, Gary Spaniak, a retail sales manager with Limoland.com, told NBC News Thursday. "We're guesstimating about a 15 percent loss due to weight."
Handling, however, is unchanged. "The car doesn't even notice that the weight is there. It takes off just like it did before."
For now, the limo's range works well for short jaunts around town and shuttles to the airport, but is not yet suited for a night out cruising around town.
The company hopes that within a few years batteries with the same size, cost, and weight of the current Leaf battery will extend the range up to 500 miles per charge.
"The technology is there for the range," Spaniak said. "It is just that the cost of it now is a little scary compared to normal vehicles."
For more on the car, check out the video below.
— via Earth Techling