Now that the holiday season is upon us, Manufacturing Digital is revisiting some of 2011's most popular stories. So sit back and enjoy reading the past year's biggest news.
One of the automotive industry's biggest trends of 2011 was electric vehicles, with several manufacturers jumping on the zero-emission bandwagon. Nissan stole a march on its competitors with the Leaf, which remains a market leader with its pioneering and innovative technology. So here at Manufacturing Digital, we take a look at the manufacturing process to discover the techniques and technologies used in producing the Nissan LEAF.
NISSAN PRODUCTION WAY
According to the company “Nissan has developed a global method that enables the highest quality products to be delivered to customers on time through synchronisation with dealers, suppliers, and manufacturing plants worldwide.”
The LEAF is manufactured using the 'Nissan Production Way' which it utilises globally for all its vehicles to enable efficient production, waste elimination and improving plant competitiveness. The process also includes thorough and rigorous inspections.
MOTOR AND BATTERY
The Nissan LEAF's front mounted electric motor is rated at 80 kilowatts (110 horsepower) and 280 Newton metres (210 lb•ft) and is manufactured at the company’s Yokohama plant. The motor is powered by an 86 megajoules (24 kW•h) lithium ion battery pack rated to deliver up to 90 kilowatts (120 hp) power. The battery pack consists of 48 modules each containing four cells and is assembled by Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC) – a joint venture between Nissan, NEC and NEC Energy Devices.
Due to the cells size and weight, the battery is mounted underneath the Nissan LEAF's rear-seat compartment to maximise interior space but also to keep the centre of gravity as low as possible to increase structural rigidity.
The Nissan LEAF comes on the same assembly line as gasoline-fuelled cars such as the Nissan Juke, Note and Cube. Ichiro Miura at Nissan’s Vehicle Production Engineering Division says: “it's the same line as gasoline-fuelled cars the only difference is we mount the battery instead of a fuel tank and the motor instead of a gasoline-fuelled engine."
Nissan has also produced one compact winding station module which used to be made at different facilities. Hirohito Kajihara, part of Nissan's e-Powertrain section said: "By making this in Japan, we are able to accumulate the knowledge of manufacturing and to solve any issues, before implementing overseas. Nissan LEAF is going to be manufactured globally; this is our goal."
“In two years time, we plan to start mass-producing Nissan LEAF at the Smyrna plant in the US, followed by the Sunderland plant in the UK. Nissan LEAF's manufacturing process will be tested and proven at the Oppama plant and will be efficiently copied to overseas plants,” says Miura.