How about this for a cool idea? Nissan’s latest concept vehicle is an electric ice cream van without the ICE – that’s Internal Combustion Engine.
The theory behind the project is to provide an alternative to traditional diesel-engined ice cream vans, which often need to be left idling in order to operate their refrigeration equipment, thus having a detrimental impact on local air quality.
Realising that an electric van such as its e-NV200 could potentially solve this issue, Nissan sent one of its prototype vehicles to a company that specialises in building the kind of enormous motorhomes used by Formula One teams. What it sent back might maintain a familiar, van-like driving environment up front, but at the back one side of the bodywork has been replaced by a canopy that lifts to reveal a pair of soft-serve ice cream machines, a freezer drawer and a drinks fridge.
SECOND-LIFE BATTERIES IN ACTION
To save draining the van’s main battery, these items are powered by two additional Nissan ROAM battery units mounted in the rear of the vehicle. These ‘second-life’ units have been recovered from old Nissan Leaf road cars (adding to the van’s eco credentials) and combine to give a capacity of 1.5kWh. Recharging them takes an hour from a 230v main supply, or between two and four hours using energy harvested from solar panels mounted on the roof of the van.
Powering the van itself meanwhile is a 40kW lithium-ion battery, giving it a range of 124 miles on the WLTP Combined fuel economy cycle. Nissan says the e-NV200 can be rapid charged in 40-60 minutes.
For the ice cream itself Nissan has partnered with Mackie’s of Scotland, which powers its Aberdeenshire-based diary using renewable wind and solar energy, thus extending the eco-friendly appeal of the concept. The result, says Nissan, is a ‘sky to scoop’ approach to this favourite summer treat.
Other ice cream van innovations present on the concept include a tap-to-pay payment system, and the use of What3Words technology to allow customers to easily identify its location via their smartphone. The inclusion of bi-directional charging capability on the e-NV200 also means that when the van is not operational owners can use the battery to store surplus energy from the national grid. It can then sell it back to the grid later via its Vehicle-to-Grid (V2G) charger, helping business owners earn a bit of extra money when ice cream season is over.
Always keen to be thorough in our reporting, CarGurus has put the Nissan ice cream van (or at least its soft-scoop machine) to the test, and can confirm that it is every bit as tasty – and as fume-free – as you’d hope. As far as ideas go for putting electric vehicle technology to good use, this one is as deliciously brilliant as they come.
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