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Nissan has put a lot of effort into recycling since long before there was a public debate about it.
The Tesla Model 3 has already surpassed Nissan's Leaf as the world's best-selling electric vehicle. However, the CEO of the Japanese electric vehicle pioneer claims that his company has a leg up in one critical area: giving old car batteries a second chance. Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida aims to increase the company's expertise in collecting lithium-ion batteries from old Leafs around the world.
Nissan CEO, Makoto Uchida
The batteries are repurposed at 7-Eleven convenience stores to store renewable energy and to power railway crossings and factory delivery robots. The automotive industry's quest to electrify their fleets is projected to face substantial challenges as a result of such technology to increase battery life and recycle materials.
Nissan has sold over 530,000 Leafs since its launch in 2010, making it one of the only automakers with enough electric vehicles on the road for batteries to approach the end of their useful life.
Joji Tagawa, Nissan’s chief sustainability officer says:
“Tesla, Volkswagen and others are introducing EVs, but they are still far from receiving batteries. We have a lot of return batteries and we have made a lot of trial and error on which battery will be used for which purpose.”
Nissan has studied various ways to repurpose batteries so that they can be used to generate renewable energy in homes and buildings, as well as for emergency power during natural disasters, through 4R Energy, a joint venture between Nissan and trading house Sumitomo formed the same year as the Leaf was launched. The Leaf is composed entirely of materials that are 100% recyclable.
Nissan, which is part of a partnership with Renault and Mitsubishi Motors in France, has already begun implementing similar programs in the United Kingdom and the United States. However, the business is projected to step up its efforts in order to electrify all new vehicles in main markets by the early 2030s. Uchida's increased focus on carbon neutrality and sustainability measures comes after Japan's third-largest automaker forecasted a three-year profit recovery.
Nissan stated that while its financial recovery isn't complete, it has allowed management to refocus on longer-term efforts to attain carbon neutrality. Executive compensation is now related to environmental and social parameters including human rights, according to the company's latest sustainability report. While initiatives to incorporate ESG criteria into yearly executive pay are common in the United States and Europe, Japanese firms are only now beginning to do so.
Nissan is also spending a significant amount of money to try to reclaim its leadership position in the electric vehicle market by improving its EV technology and presence. EV36Zero, a multimillion-dollar EV Hub project, has also been unveiled by the business.
Nissan's decision to construct its next-generation all-electric vehicle in Sunderland, England with a new Gigafactory from Envision-AESC is a significant vote of confidence in the UK.
The EV36Zero project is expected to create 6,200 employment throughout Nissan and its suppliers, including 909 new Nissan employees, 750 new Envision AESC roles, and roughly 4,500 other jobs.
This project is part of Nissan's pioneering attempts to achieve carbon neutrality across the full lifecycle of its products.
The Envision AESC side of the EV Hub is focused on low-carbon battery manufacture in a contemporary battery manufacturing plant for Nissan automobiles. At its new Gigafactory, the facility will use integrated AIoT smart technology to monitor and optimize energy use, manufacturing, and maintenance, allowing it to swiftly increase production.
The "360" portion of the equation appears to mean that it's not only about electric vehicle manufacture, but also battery production and battery reuse. In that sense, it resembles Tesla's Gigafactory concept.