Nissan has commissioned a special conversion of the Nissan Bluebird, the first car off the factory’s production line in 1986. This is as the company commemorates 35 years of production at the Sunderland plant.

The one-off project car titled Newbird, is powered by the 100% electric drivetrain of a Nissan LEAF, the pioneering mass-market EV that kick-started the global trend towards electrification of mobility. The Newbird connects 35 years of manufacturing heritage at Sunderland, as Nissan accelerates towards an electrified future through Ambition 2030, the company’s long-term plan to empower mobility.

Speaking on the new project, Alan Johnson, Vice President of manufacturing at the 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. 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.”

Nissan Newbird key features

The Nissan Bluebird was extensively modified to integrate the LEAF’s electric drivetrain. The original petrol combustion engine and gearbox were removed and a LEAF motor, inverter and 40kWh battery pack installed, with the battery modules split between the engine bay and boot for optimized weight distribution.

Updates and modifications were made to the power steering, braking and heating systems to enable them to be electrically powered. A custom suspension was also installed to support the additional weight from the battery packs. The car is recharged through the original fuel flap, which provides access to the charging port.

The battery can be recharged at up to 6.6kW and the original driver instrument panel has been connected to the EV system to enable the fuel gauge to show the battery state of charge. Although not homologated, the vehicle’s range from a single charge is estimated at around 130 miles (subject to environmental factors and driving style) with a 0-62mph (0-100kph) time of just under 15 seconds.

Nissan Sunderland

The Sunderland Plant was officially opened in September 1986 and has been in operation ever since. Total output from 1986 to the present day stands in excess of 10.5 million cars. The number of staff employed at the Sunderland plant has grown from 430 in 1986 to 6,000 today. There are 19 staff who started in 1986 still working today on Nissan LEAF.

Under Ambition 2030, Nissan aims to become a truly sustainable company, driving towards a cleaner, safer, and more inclusive world. The vision supports Nissan’s goal to be carbon neutral across the lifecycle of its products by fiscal year 2050.