New Opportunities for Electromobility
Commercial vehicles and the start of a broader mobility solution are driving new opportunities for Nissan’s electric range, explains Gareth Dunsmore, electric vehicle director at Nissan Europe.
How has the 30kWh battery broadened the LEAF’s fleet appeal?
What we’ve been trying to do is go to bigger corporates and do workplace promotions showing the car and explaining how to charge, how their staff can charge at work, so we’re looking at company car side of it. We’ve also seen growth with taxi business – when the 30kWh [battery] launched we started to become a viable option for taxi drivers.
When you look at congestion charging, and green cities appearing, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Bristol, places like that are really developing the infrastructure so there’s a benefit to people driving. That’s starting to get people asking questions of their company manager, and asking when they can have an EV.
What’s the take-up like for the e-NV200?
I’m like a kid in a sweet shop in terms of answering requests and explaining to the wider team the different abilities of that vehicle. The big growth for us is postal services; we have strong deals with Austrian, German and Italian and postal services, and it’s not one or two vehicles, it’s tens, twenties, hundreds. Municipalities are also changing; they’re asking how can they reduce deliveries during peak hours. They can’t put them overnight as they make noise. Silent deliveries are another benefit, enabling companies to reduce their carbon footprint and the time they take to make deliveries.
Finally, really important for fleet customers, is customisation. We offer over 90% of conversion types from our LCV range on the e-NV200, and you can have any paint colour. So if you’re looking to have a sustainable card in your window, you can have the conversion, the zero emissions element and the actual business solution is tailored to your brand.
What other advantages do EVs offer?
The next steps are beyond product and delivery of goods and services; it’s about intelligent mobility. We will have, as a pilot in the UK this year, vehicle-to-grid chargers at our technical centre in Cranfield, and we’re looking to partner with individual companies as well. We want to say to a business we can support all your energy needs. You can put photovoltaic panels on your roof, have Nissan’s xStorage [batteries for energy storage] embedded in your building and connect your vehicles during the day to reduce the cost of your overall energy needs. It’s that holistic solution we’re looking at, to better support businesses with fleets of vehicles.
Do you see a role for PHEVs in Nissan?
At its core, we believe in zero emissions. Our intelligent mobility strategy has this power element, and that needs at the base technology level a battery and an electric powertrain, whether that’s a fuel cell, or a range extender series hybrid option to it. We’ll see where demand goes and respond to that. Fundamentally the whole point is all these forms of mobility need a battery and e-powertrain that’s where we’re experts. We can grow and merge onto that, we have partnerships on hydrogen fuel cell with Daimler, and we have hybrids in Russia. We’ll see.
How does the fees for the Electric Highway change things?
Charging infrastructure has to have a business model behind it to ensure there’s more charging put in place and it’s easy to charge. We’re working with [Ecotricity] to see how we can look after our customers better. The 250,000 pioneers who gave us that trust, we owe them something back. Where that will go I don’t know, but we’ll keep working on it.