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Old 10-05-2011, 08:00 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Nissan Versa Load Floor

In my introduction thread I mentioned installing a flat load floor in the CARDIS. As I've been asked about it I thought I'd post a few photos. Maybe it'll spark ideas for someone else.

First, here's what a stock Versa hatchback looks like with part of the back seat folded down (this isn't the CARDIS):



As you can see, the back seat doesn't fold anywhere near flat, but it does increase the load space to more than 50 cubic feet (from 18).

Now to get a flat load floor, a sane person would build a platform/storage unit to raise the back part up level with folded seats. Nissan also sells a "cargo organizer" that does the same thing.

But in the 11 years I had the VW Cabrio (the vehicle replaced by the CARDIS), I had someone in the back seat maybe three times. So for me, removing the back seat made more sense than throwing away cargo space by raising the load floor.

Here's what a Versa hatchback looks like after you pull the back seat (side and rear views):





Here's the added underlayment. The styrofoam is to avoid creating a resonant chamber; it also protects what I presume is the fuel pump wiring.





Here's the naked load floor test-fitted without the stopper rails. The raised portion is to accommodate the little hump in the middle of the floor. I'd originally planned to put in a full-length load floor at that height so it would be perfectly flat. But the more I thought about it, the less I liked wasting that space. (Knowing Murphy it'd be no time before I'd be trying to load something that missed fitting by one inch... and cursing myself for having raised the whole floor.) I figure I can always build an additional platform to drop in if I ever find I need a perfectly flat surface for some reason.





And here's the finished product covered, stopper rails installed, and bolted in place:





Here's a semi-close-up from the front seat looking back, showing how it couples with the back seat kick rail:



And a close-up showing a stopper rail and the fit with the side panel (I may remove the shoulder harnesses at some point, but wanted to prove out the concept before going after the buried intertia reels):


Photos from Rick Rae on Flickr.

Two closing comments:

1) This wasn't my idea. Someone smarter than me did this to a different hatchback, and was generous enough to share his efforts with the world. All I did was rip off his concept. If I ever stumble across the discussion again I'll link to that thread to give him proper credit.

2) The goal for this mod wasn't fuel efficiency, which is why I didn't post this in EcoModding Central. But since the rear seat weighed almost 64 pounds and what I put in was around a dozen, this mod shed about 2% of the vehicle's curb weight (or roughly 1/3 of a person). And since weight has a bearing on matters, this could technically be seen as a fuel efficiency mod.

Still left to do: Fabricate a mat from some leftover gray carpet to lay over the whole shebang for protection when I'm making a garbage run or hauling firewood or what-have-you.

Cheers,
Rick

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Old 10-06-2011, 01:30 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Nice work. I would add a net or barrier to separate the front seat from the cargo area to prevent things from flying forward in an emergency stop or collision. Objects in the back will become lethal projectiles in an accident.
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:46 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Thanks for the kind words.

I've already kicked myself -- several times -- for failing to retrieve the Cabrio's cargo net before getting rid of the car. At present I do have a couple of load locks to secure larger items.

Fortunately there's no urgency as it's only an issue if there's something back there, and I try to avoid hauling stuff around. Hurts fuel efficiency, doncha know.

Cheers,
Rick
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Old 10-06-2011, 05:09 PM   #4 (permalink)
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nice job! very clean install!
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TOOQIKK View Post
nice job! very clean install!
Thanks. All things considered I'm happy with how it turned out.

Rick
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Old 10-06-2011, 10:24 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Does your Versa handle well with less weight? I have actually added about 150lbs of weight (sandbags) to improve handling on the highway. It makes a big difference, the car gets blown around a lot without any ballast.
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Old 10-07-2011, 06:34 AM   #7 (permalink)
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No issues so far, but I haven't driven in high winds since pulling the back seat. I guess time will tell!

Rick
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Old 10-07-2011, 09:57 AM   #8 (permalink)
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My theory is that the suspension was designed for a two person load and with only the driver the springs are not balanced. High pressure in the tires may be exacerbating this.

Without a question, it drives much better with 150lbs on the passenger side. It tracks better and is not as affected by wind or buffeting from passing trucks. I have the sandbags in the rear passenger footwell.

I know lightweight is supposed to be better for mpg, but for commuting an hour on the highway, better tracking is a lot easier on the driver.
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Old 10-07-2011, 10:39 AM   #9 (permalink)
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WOW, it really is bigger on the inside
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I can't understand why my MPG's are so low..........
21,000lb, 41' Toy Haulers are rough on FE!
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Old 10-07-2011, 11:03 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Your theory seems reasonable. I've heard "vague steering" comments about Versas, and that may factor into the tracking issues too; i.e., a balanced/heavier load may help mitigate that. (For the record, I haven't experienced it.)

When I read your question I was thinking of crosswinds and didn't realize you were referring to big rig turbulence and the like. I haven't noticed any change in response there, and it's no worse than other small/lightweight vehicles I've driven (and definitely better than an empty cargo van!)

It seems odd you'd be having this issue in your heavier sedan (albeit only a little: 2516 pounds vs. 2477). Granted yours is a bit longer (176 vs. 169 inches) but I have that stubby extra side area (above your trunk) to catch the wind. I'd think if either car was going to be buffeted around it'd be my lighter, blockier hatchback.

I'm going to test a partial kammback eventually (see a photo of the preliminary test in my garage -- and yes, the angle was too steep). It'll be interesting to see if that additional high side area makes buffeting more noticeable.

How much has the added weight affected your fuel efficiency, if at all?

A thought: Instead of 150 pounds of nonfunctional weight, how about including a deep cycle AGM battery or two and going for an alternator delete?

Cheers,
Rick

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Last edited by Rick Rae; 10-07-2011 at 11:04 AM.. Reason: Fixed typo
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