Image: Nissan

Nissan toasts 35 years in Washington with new electric Bluebird

NISSAN has celebrated 35 years of production at its Washington plant with a special project to convert its iconic Bluebird into an electric car.

The first car off the factory’s production line in 1986, the model paved the way for many compact saloon cars and now, chiefs have launched  a one-off battery-powered edition dubbed the ‘Newbird’, powered by a fully-electric Nissan LEAF drivetrain.

With plans to have a completely electric range of cars in just 10 years’ time, the automaker toasted more than three and a half decades of history with the newly-outfitted Bluebird.

Washington’s Nissan plant was officially opened in September 1986 when the very first Bluebird rolled off the factory floor and the facility has been in operation ever since. Churning out in excess of 10.5 million cars, the plant’s staff numbers have grown from 430 in that first year to 6,000 today – with 19 employees who started in 1986 still on hand working on the LEAF.

The firm hopes the battery-powered Bluebird project inspires drivers to go electric as the country rolls towards the ban on sales of all new petrol and diesel cars in 2030.

Alan Johnson, Vice President, Manufacturing, at Nissan Sunderland Plant, said; “The ‘Newbird’ represents all that is great about our plant – past present and future – as we celebrate 35 years of manufacturing in Sunderland.

The fully-electric Bluebird hitting the streets around Washington’s Nissan plant…

“We have a rich heritage of building great cars, right from the original Bluebird model, and our fantastic team is now leading the way as we drive towards an exciting electrified, carbon neutral, future.”

A major expansion to renewable energy generation at the Washington plant was confirmed in December, with approval given to install an additional 20MW solar farm.  Work will begin on the development immediately and installation alongside the plant’s existing wind and solar farms is expected to be complete by May 2022.

The new installation is set to double the amount of renewable electricity generated at Nissan’s plant to 20 per cent of the facility’s needs – enough to build every Nissan LEAF sold in Europe.