If you had asked someone 10 years ago to name an automaker that was leading on electric vehicles, it’s likely the person would say Nissan. If you ask the same question today, I think you’d find a different answer. Just take a look at EV sales in Europe, the US, or China to understand why. Though, Nissan may be intent on changing the story again — on the east side of the Atlantic, at least. In the UK, in particular, Nissan is pumping in a considerable chunk of coin to try to regain its leadership position.
Nissan chose Sunderland, where it already produces the LEAF, to host its “flagship Electric Vehicle (EV) Hub,” EV36Zero. Somehow, this hub launches a “360-degree solution for zero-emission motoring.” We’ll get into what that means in a moment.
Nissan, Envision AESC, and Sunderland City Council are putting £1 billion into the project to start.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs, & Politics
Even UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is getting behind the project. “Nissan’s announcement to build its new-generation all-electric vehicle in Sunderland, alongside a new gigafactory from Envision-AESC, is a major vote of confidence in the UK and our highly-skilled workers in the North East.
“Building on over 30 years of history in the area, this is a pivotal moment in our electric vehicle revolution and securing its future for decades to come.
“Commitments like these exemplify our ability to create hundreds of green jobs and boost British industry, whilst also allowing people to travel in an affordable and sustainable way so we can eliminate our contributions to climate change.”
Clearly, someone wrote that statement for Boris. It is a good one capturing some key points for both the UK and Nissan. Naturally, after Brexit, this kind of announcement is a huge deal that requires full vocal support from Boris and his clan. The EV36Zero project is supposed to create 6,200 jobs across Nissan and supplier companies — 909 new jobs at Nissan, 750 at Envision AESC, and more or less 4,500 others. It also reportedly protects 75 Nissan R&D jobs and 300 Envision AESC jobs.
Nissan’s Next Step
“This project comes as part of Nissan’s pioneering efforts to achieve carbon neutrality throughout the entire lifecycle of our products,” Nissan President and Chief Executive Officer, Makoto Uchida said. “Our comprehensive approach includes not only the development and production of EVs, but also the use of on-board batteries as energy storage and their reuse for secondary purposes.”
So, the “360” part of things seems to be that it’s not just about electric vehicle production, but also battery production and battery reuse. So, in essence, it is similar to Tesla’s gigafactory concept.
“Nissan EV36Zero will transform the idea of what is possible for our industry and set a roadmap for the future for all,” Nissan Chief Operating Officer Ashwani Gupta added. “We reached a new frontier with the Nissan LEAF, the world’s first mass-market all-electric vehicle. Now, with our partners, Nissan will pioneer the next phase of the automotive industry as we accelerate towards full electrification and carbon neutrality.”
The new Nissan electric vehicle that will be a central focus of the fresh investments is not announced yet. More information will be coming later in the year.
#Nissan is driving towards carbon neutrality with a world-first EV manufacturing ecosystem ⚡
Announced today, Nissan 36Zero is a £1 billion flagship #EV Hub in Sunderland, UK, that will establish a new 360-degree solution for zero-emission motoring.
🖱: https://t.co/qCeehZydMl pic.twitter.com/m9QfdMS6Tb
— Nissan Motor (@NissanMotor) July 1, 2021
Don’t Forget Envision AESC
The Envision AESC side of the EV Hub is focused on low-carbon production of batteries for Nissan vehicles in a modern battery production facility. The facility “will deploy integrated AIoT smart technology to monitor and optimize energy consumption, manufacturing and maintenance at its new gigafactory, enabling it to rapidly increase production and provide batteries to power up to 100,000 Nissan electric vehicles a year.” Naturally, having the EV battery production so close to the vehicle production helps a great deal to cut down on shipping costs and emissions.
Envision AESC (formerly just AESC) actually opened the first EV battery factory in Europe when it set up shop in Sunderland back in 2012. Since then, it has produced enough EV battery cells, modules, and packs for 180,000 vehicles distributed across 44 countries. All of those batteries have gone into Nissan LEAF and Nissan eNV200 fully electric cars and vans.
“Supporting this new model allocation, Envision AESC will invest £450 million to build the UK’s first gigafactory on the International Advanced Manufacturing Park (IAMP), adjacent to the Nissan plant, powered by renewable energy and pioneering next-generation battery technology.”
The £450 million investment gets battery production capacity up to 9 GWh at this site. However, it’s possible Envision AESC will invest another £1.8 billion and get that production capacity up to 25 GWh. It’s projected that would create 4,500 “high-value green jobs” by 2030. Furthermore, production capacity could rise all the way to 35 GWh based on current estimates.
It’s not clear what would cause the plant to grow to 25 GWh or 35 GWh rather than 9 GWh, but I presume the key questions are:
- How hard will Nissan work to sell its EVs?
- How competitive will its coming EV and any future versions of the LEAF and eNV200 be?
- How well will Nissan dealers sell its EVs?
- Will Nissan launch a serious marketing effort to grow its EV brand?
- Are Envision AESC’s future batteries genuinely competitive?
“The new plant will increase the cost-competitiveness of EV batteries produced in the UK, including through a new Gen5 battery cell with 30% more energy density which improves range and efficiency,” Nissan and Envision AESC state. “This commitment will power Nissan’s new vehicles, supporting the continued localization of vehicle parts and components with advanced technology. This will make batteries cheaper and EVs more accessible to a growing number of customers in the future.”
Nissan Still ♥ UK
“I am extremely proud that Nissan has not only reaffirmed its belief in Britain, but is doubling down on its long-standing commitment to our country,” UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng adds. “The cars made in this plant, using batteries made just down the road at the UK’s first at scale gigafactory, will have a huge role to play as we transition away from petrol and diesel cars and kick-start a domestic electric vehicle manufacturing base.”
To date, Nissan states that it has invested more than £5 billion ($6.9 billion) into the Sunderland EV factory. Aims of this investment have included:
- R&D at Nissan’s European Technical Centre in Cranfield, Bedfordshire
- Support for UK suppliers to transition to electric vehicles
- Plant competitiveness and environmental improvements
- Skills development in the Nissan workforce for future technologies
Long before the LEAF arrived, Nissan started producing vehicles in Sunderland in July 1986. Aside from the LEAF, Nissan also produces the Qashqai and Juke (not electric vehicles) in Sunderland at the moment.
Sunderland City Council is reportedly focused on advancing a 100% renewable electricity microgrid project to power the growing cleantech facilities in its jurisdiction. 10 solar farms totalling 132 MW of power capacity could be built to support this, and there’s already a good amount of wind power in the region. It could also include a large battery using second-life Nissan EV/Envision AESC batteries, perhaps totalling 1 MW in power capacity (a MWh figure was not mentioned).
Nissan announced that it planned to grow its own use of solar power at the Sunderland plant earlier this year.
Featured image courtesy of Nissan (CC BY-NC-ND license)
Elon Musk says Tesla has a ‘performance Cybertruck’
Elon Musk reveals that Tesla has a ‘performance Cybertruck’ – indicating that it could be one of the first versions of the electric pickup truck.
Tesla is on the verge of delivering the first Cybertruck.
Despite the automaker having produced likely hundreds of trucks and being about to start deliveries, there’s still a lot we don’t know about the electric pickup truck.
Tesla first unveiled the Cybertruck in 2019 and announced specs and pricing at the time, but the automaker is known to update its vehicles significantly from prototype to production. On top of it, the auto market has changed a lot since then, and that is expected to completely change the prices that Tesla announced for the Cybertruck.
Those expected changes have led to speculation about which Cybertruck models are going to be available, when, and at what prices.
We have recently seen evidence that at least some of Tesla’s Cybertruck release candidates are dual-motor powertrain trucks, which is leading people to believe that it might likely be the first
Now CEO Elon Musk is now adding some information into the mix by saying on X that he recently drove a “performance Cybertruck”:
I just drove the performance Cybertruck today and it kicks ass next-level.
This means that Tesla currently has a “performance” version of the Cybertruck, which could mean it could be amongst the first versions to come to market.
Tesla has previously announced a tri-motor version of the Cybertruck with the following specs:
- Tri Motor AWD with 500+ miles of range, 0-60 mph in 2.9 seconds, top speed of 130 mph, and starting price of $69,900
That could certainly qualify as a “performance version”, but there have also been rumors of Tesla offering a potential quad-motor version of the Cybertruck, which could have even higher performance.
Tesla is expected to announce all the details of the Cybertruck at a delivery event, which could come within the next few weeks.
This 100 MPH ‘street legal’ 2-seater electric race car from China looks pretty legit
Most of the fun and funky vehicles I manage to dredge up for the Awesomely Weird Alibaba Electric Vehicle of the Week are big on weirdness but short on power. This time that seems to be reversed, as this electric race car is more wild than weird and comes with some seriously impressive performance.
This isn’t some slow crawling electric battle tank or ice-cream truck shaped like a VW bus. Those are more typical of this series on odd Chinese EVs, but this time we’re going all-in for extreme performance.
That means you’d better be ready to buckle in for speeds of up to 160 km/h (100 mph)! And based on some of these product photos, I wouldn’t mind buckling into the passenger seat for the first few rides.
Powering this little racer’s rear wheels is a 10 kW (13.5 hp) electric motor, which might not sound that powerful, but remember just how potent the low end torque from an electric motor is for rocketing off the line.
And since the entire vehicle only weighs 650 kg (1,433 lb), not to mention an extra 45 kg (100 lb) of cover girl model, there just isn’t that much mass here to be accelerated.
Plus the Chinese tend to rate motors with continuous power, not peak power. So there’s probably more kilowatts under the hood than we’re expecting. There’s no information on what kind of controller is powering that motor, but I’d wager that the peak power could be closer to 20 kW (27 hp).
There’s also a surprisingly large battery in this little racer, to the tune of 14.4 kWh. It’s a 96V pack built from LG lithium-ion cells and would give several American electric motorcycles a run for their money.
According to the vendor, it should be enough for 150 km (96 miles) of range per charge, though there’s no mention if that’s on a city street track or the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Speaking of city streets, the company says that the vehicle is ECE certified and “can be legally driven on European streets”. I guess we’ll just have to take their word on that, unless someone wants to buy one of these and try it out themselves.
There’s no word on DOT-certification and so it’s likely not street legal in the US. But that might not stop someone from going full-‘Murica doing donuts in the local Krogers parking lot with their bald eagle riding shotgun.
If you want to get some skin in the game (eagle not included), it’s going to cost you a cool US $28,000. Or at least that would be the first payment. There’s no telling how much you’d have to fork over afterwards for ocean freight, import charges, taxes, and other add-on charges along the way.
But for anyone hoping to try their luck with the local European cops, it’s at least comforting to see that these vehicles seem to actually be in real production.
The vendor shared several images of what look like a sea of frames alongside several partially assembled race cars.
I’m not recommending anyone actually try to buy one of these from Alibaba. In fact, I’d probably recommend the opposite. Let’s just treat this as a fun window-shopping exercise.
But for the person who inevitably ignores my warnings (as many of my readers have been known to do) and plunks down some serious cash for one of these, let me know if and when it arrives. I will be there in a second to go for a ride with you!
This EV fast charging station tells you when its power is at its cheapest and greenest
This DC fast charging station tells EV drivers when renewable energy is at its peak in the grid – and thus when charging prices are cheapest.
The “Better Energy Charge” station in Sønderborg, Denmark, is owned by renewable energy company Better Energy. (It sits next to the company’s R&D solar park.)
What makes this charging station unique is its dynamic pricing model. It differs from traditional fixed pricing schemes because it incentivizes EV drivers with lower charging prices when renewable energy is at its peak on the grid.
The charging price, which is available the day before, follows the Danish energy spot prices. Similar to a gas station’s pricing signs, the EV charging station’s price board is visible from the road. (Why don’t all EV charging stations do this?)
“We want to encourage people to charge their cars when there is a lot of renewable electricity in the grid by making it cheaper when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing,” said Peter Munck Søe-Jensen, EVP of power solutions at Better Energy.
The Danish company feels its model helps drivers plan in advance to charge their EVs when energy is at its cheapest. And by charging EVs when solar and wind energy production is high, consumers can also increase the probability that it’s renewable, not fossil fuel-powered, energy.
What do you think of this model? Have you seen anything similar? Let us know in the comments below.
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