Clean Machines: Nissan and ‘a future of totally electric cars’

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Japanese car giant Nissan envisages ‘a future of totally electric cars’ as it unveils its latest Leaf model, writes Ryan Hewlett.

The number of 100 per cent electric cars registered in 2015 nearly doubled on the year before, to 9,934.” 

The Nissan Leaf is now 5-years-old, and there’s a new version for 2016. The company is not holding back with this new model and the car giant is talking some impressive figures. The car has sold 200,000 units globally, and Nissan also claims a 57 per cent market share for electric vehicles.

One of the central concerns surrounding electric vehicles is range. Consumers worry about whether or not they will be able to reach their destination and then make it home again. With a range of 155 miles on paper, the new Leaf looks to ease these concerns and provides a healthy increase from the old models’ range of 124 miles.

ND3_8497The improved range is thanks to the Leaf’s new 30kWh battery which is a sizeable increase from the 24kWh battery in the old car. Furthermore, even with the additional power Nissan is claiming that this new leaf will cost only 2p a mile to run.

Clearly Nissan is making the kind of improvements that consumers are growing to expect from new models in the fickle car market. It would appear that for Nissan this is not simply about improving sales figures – it is also about striving for a future that hums to the sound of an electric motor.

‘A massive shift’

“I can imagine a future of totally electric cars and the increasing practicality and benefits of the technology suggest we’re heading that way,” says Robert Tweedie, Nissan’s Head of EV.

“However, it’s still a massive shift in terms of available technology and more importantly consumer attitudes.”

This ‘massive shift in consumer attitude’ maybe closer then you think. There was once a time when your smart phone and tablet were the stuff of sci-fi films and the far-off dreams of tech students across the globe. The question that is on the minds of the car manufacturers is whether EVs will be next. Although a hotly contested topic, some industry experts say every car sold by 2026 will be a plug-in.

Electric future

If the the future of automotive travel is to be electric, then there will need to be further investment in EV technologies and a greater drive for battery innovations. Nissan is already investing heavily and announced last month that it will invest a further £26.5 million in its plant in Sunderland to produce battery cells for the Leaf.

ND3_8189This further investment in the EV industry within the UK comes as part of a growing trend towards EV ownership. For many customers, electric vehicles now represent a realistic alternative to standard combustion engines. The number of 100 per cent electric cars registered in 2015 nearly doubled on the year before, to 9,934.

“We think this fast growth is evidence that UK car buyers are increasingly aware of the significant benefits of driving an ultra-low emission vehicle (ULEV), as they look to reduce both their running costs and environmental impact,” says Mr Tweedie.

“There’s also confidence in the infrastructure which is improving on a daily basis. There are now more than 7,000 public chargers available in the UK and more than 480 rapid chargers, covering 95 per cent of the UK’s motorway network.

“With 90 per cent of car journeys less than 25 miles, daily driver requirements are also well within our cars’ battery range.”

Tackling climate change

For Nissan, investing in EV technologies is only part of their commitment to tackle climate change.

“Nissan’s ultimate goal is to manage the environmental impact caused by our operations, the use of Nissan vehicles and the use of resources to a level that can be absorbed by nature.

“We are doing this by proactively addressing the environmental challenges and reducing our impact on the environment through eco-innovation, developing a sustainable mobility society, and providing customers with innovative technology in our products.

“We also set environmental objectives and targets based on social demand and our own long-term vision which is extended beyond compliance.”

Incentives

There are now various incentives for drivers to make the switch to electric vehicles including a long-running electric car grant of between £2,500 and 4,500, depending on which models buyers choose.

On a larger scale there is the ‘Go Ultra Low’ scheme announced by the Department for Transport in January. The scheme will see the DfT pledge a £40m fund to eight towns and cities as part of a drive to boost the uptake of cleaner cars. In return, the cities will offer a range of new perks to electric car owners including free parking, free charging and most controversially, unrestricted access to bus lanes. The time to go electric has never been more enticing.

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