Electric Avenue: Nissan is on a mission to make EV technology an integral part of how our world works

March 17, 2021

Nissan is a true pioneer in bringing electric vehicles into the modern mindset. After all, they did bring out their first electric car, the Tama Electric Vehicle way back in 1947. Right from world‘s first lithium-ion battery-powered car, the Prairie Joy EV to the 2021 Leaf Plus, Nissan has been at the forefront of ushering in an electric future.

Key to the magic, of course, has been Nissan’s advanced Lithium-ion batterly technology. Advanced layered Ni-Co-Mn positive electrode material have increased battery storage capability over the years, while laminated-structure battery cells played an integral part in enhanced cooling performance, increased space, reduced battery pack size and higher durability and reliability.

Take the 2021 Nissan Leaf Plus, and the 62 kWh battery has a 25% higher specific energy density lithium-ion cells, with battery capacity increased by 55%. The end result is that 2021 Nissan Leaf Plus, for instance, has a very impressive 226 miles range.

Nissan pioneered the use of lithium-ion batteries in commercial electric cars with the launch of the Prairie Joy EV in 1997. Continuing its research into core technologies and pursuit of innovation in the field of EV batteries, Nissan in 2020 licensed an advanced technology to APB Corporation that will allow mass production of lower-cost, safer lithium-ion batteries with increased charging capacity. With all-polymer batteries said to be the next generation of lithium-ion batteries, Nissan’s technology, known as bipolar structure all-polymer battery technology, increases charging capacity relative to battery volume while also enhancing safety by replacing liquid electrolytes with polymers, enabling consumers and communities to more effectively use low-cost or renewable energy at a lower initial cost.

The scale of the projected electric vehicle market means that a circular economy model needs to be established while the scale of end-of-life product is still manageable to prevent a build-up of hazardous waste. Nissan has set a goal to achieve carbon-neutrality by 2050, and the past few years have seen the Japanese brand exploring ways to refabricate, recycle, resell, and reuse electric vehicle batteries for more than just scrap, but to power other things. An example of that approach is the fact that the battery pack on the Leaf is 99% recyclable.

Which brings us to 4R Energy Corp.

With the first Nissan Leaf batteries coming to the end of their useful life, they are now being sent to the 4R Energy Corp factory, where the batteries instantly gain extra value beyond what they would usually be expected to deliver during their normal lifetime.

Nissan Leaf batteries being sent to the 4R factory are first graded on the quality of their components. Components which get an “A” grade can be reused in new EV battery units, others with a “B” grade can be used for industrial machinery like forklifts and large stationary energy storage, while “C” grade components find a place in backup supply power units.

4R Energy’s engineers estimate that recovered Nissan Leaf batteries end up with a life span of about 10 to 15 years – beyond that of its role as an EV battery – dramatically extending the usefulness of EV batteries, increasing the cost value, and reducing their overall carbon footprint. Creating demand for batteries beyond their useful EV lifespan also means reducing the long term total cost of ownership for EV owners.

In the meantime, Nissan has also evolved the Vehicle-to-Home (V2H) system first introduced back in 2012, and which made Nissan the first company in the world to unveil a system that lets customers share power between their homes and cars. The Nissan Blue Switch project, for example, enables electric vehicles to convert into clean and mobile emergency power supplies to be used in the aftermath of natural disasters. For instance, the Leaf’s vehicle-to-grid technology was able to support disaster relief workers in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagibis, which hit Japan in October 2019, enabling the charging of power tools used in rescue operations. Realising the potential of electric vehicles as sources of zero-emission mobile emergency power, Nissan created the RE-LEAF to demonstrate the potential of electric vehicles in disaster recovery. While a working concept, in Japan, Nissan has used the LEAF to provide emergency power and transportation following natural disasters since 2011, and has formed partnerships with more than 60 local governments to support disaster relief efforts.

Nissan’s ever-evolving electric car portfolio spearheaded the world’s transition to sustainable mobility. And today, the iconic brand is focusing on how EV technology is about more than vehicle performance, becoming an integral part of how our world works.

by Anil George
Avid follower of all things tech. In between his quest for the ultimate gizmo, Anil fiddles with light meters, collects rare books and feeds his fetish for Jap horror movies. As Managing Editor of T3 Middle East for the GCC, Anil oversees content direction across print and digital. He was a CES 2020 Innovation Awards Judge, reprising his role as an Innovation Awards Judge at CES 2018, CES 2017, 2016 and 2015. Anil is also the Middle East's first Brand Ambassador for Ashdown Engineering. Reach him at: editor@t3me.com.