APC project powers Nissan Leaf and develops UK supply chain

  • UK research project enables production of 40kWh battery for the new Nissan LEAF
  • New high energy density cells to be used by Hyperdrive in custom battery modules
  • Project learnings to help train next generation of UK battery engineers

A UK research programme, funded through the Advanced Propulsion Centre (APC), has enabled Nissan to produce high density battery technology for the new LEAF, as well as help strengthen the electrified supply chain capability in the UK.

The project, which completed in February 2018, saw Nissan collaborate with Hyperdrive, the University of Newcastle, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Zero Carbon Futures to develop a new manufacturing process at Nissan’s Sunderland plant, which allows the carmaker to produce 40kWh battery cells in the UK and for European markets.

The batteries, which are already being fitted to the new Nissan LEAF, improve the vehicle’s range and reduce production costs. The facility is the first major producer of the new high energy density batteries in the UK and is currently the largest in Europe.

Hyperdrive, which utilises Nissan’s UK-manufactured battery cells in low volume highly-customised non-automotive applications, has also installed its own pilot line to produce prototype battery modules using the 40kWh cell. Hyperdrive is the first SME to be supplied Nissan’s UK-produced battery cells, and will now integrate them into its latest products. Before the APC-funded project, the company was importing 40kWh cells from South Korea.

The University of Newcastle, Warwick Manufacturing Group and Zero Carbon Futures were all able to input valuable knowledge and expertise to the project. They were also able to take learnings from the project to help train the next generation of UK engineers in the latest battery technology, as well as create open-access training for the whole industry.

Jon Beasley, Director of Technology and Projects at the APC, said:

This project exemplifies the value of consortia projects, with partners working together to exploit their capabilities, both jointly and individually.

A winner of the fourth APC funding competition, the Nissan-led consortium was awarded £9.7m government-industry funding in January 2016. The APC recently launched its ninth funding competition (APC9), in which up to £30m will be awarded to eligible projects.

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