Three years after Nissan introduced electric vehicle and battery manufacturing to Europe, the 50,000th European-built Nissan Leaf has rolled off the production line.
Manufactured in Nissan’s flagship plant in Sunderland, UK, it is the first time a European carmaker has built 50,000 electric vehicles (EVs) and the batteries which power them.
The silver, Tekna grade Nissan Leaf rolled off the production line last week and is destined for a customer in France. European-built Nissan Leafs are currently exported to 23 global markets covering Western Europe and other diverse destinations like Argentina, Iceland, Israel and Taiwan.
Nissan’s Leaf and battery manufacturing was launched in the UK in 2013 by Prime Minister David Cameron and supports over 2,000 jobs at Nissan and in its UK suppliers. In 2016, the automaker introduced the extended range 250km Leaf to Europe and confirmed production of future generation batteries in Sunderland – a further £26.5 million (Rs 255 crore) investment in the plant.
Commenting on the occasion, Paul Willcox, chairman, Nissan Europe said, “What Nissan is doing today with electric vehicle technology is more advanced than any other car manufacturer. This milestone is another first for Nissan and for our team in Sunderland. No other brand has Nissan’s experience or expertise in both battery and vehicle production, and I’m thrilled that over 50,000 customers in Europe share our vision for a zero-emission future.”
The Nissan Leaf, with a new 250 km range, remains the best-selling EV of all time with almost 220,000 vehicles sold worldwide.
Launch of new vehicle-to-grid charging scheme
The Japanese carmaker is also launching a new vehicle-to-grid charging scheme in the UK with its all-electric Leaf that will enable owners to sell extra energy stored in their cars’ batteries back to the electricity grid for money.
Nissan revealed at an event in east London that it has been working with the UK’s National Grid and global power management company Eaton to develop a so-called xStorage system, which can transfer additional energy from a Leaf’s batteries to the grid.
Nissan Europe chairman Paul Willcox said a fully charged Leaf can power an average home for two days and that contributing to the grid with xStorage can earn owners as much as £600 (Rs 58,000) a year in income.
“Currently there are about 18,000 Leafs in the UK, with energy equivalent to about two power stations. If everyone drove a Leaf, there’d be enough energy to power Germany and Britain,” said Steve Holliday, National Grid’s non-executive director.
The xStorage system has been developed by Eaton and costs £3000 (Rs 289,000) to be supplied and installed. It works in much the same way as a conventional Leaf charger does, but with energy moving in the opposite direction with up to 4.2kWh storage of energy at one time.
The trio of companies involved believe that once the technology has been adopted by a large number of people, it will help to maintain a more consistent energy supply with fewer peaks and troughs of supply than we see at the moment.
To illustrate how effective the technology is, Nissan has pledged to power all of its European buildings with vehicle-to-grid energy by the end of 2017. Three years later, it hopes to have sold at least 100,000 xStorage systems to the market.
The system will first be trialled in the UK with 100 Leafs, before being offered to British customers in October of this year. It’ll also be rolled out into other parts of Europe alongside this.
“The electric car is here to stay, and Nissan is the world’s leading electric car supplier. Forecasts predict that there’ll be 2.4 billion cars on the world’s roads by 2050. We’re leading the way to intelligent mobility, ” said Willcox.
– With inputs from Sam Sheehan, Autocar UK
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