Published on December 24th, 2021 | by Subhash Nair


Nissan Newbird Is A LEAF-Powered Bluebird Conversion Made In Sunderland Plant

Nissan has converted an old Bluebird that was made in their Sunderland plant into a LEAF-powered Newbird.

35 years ago, the Nissan Sunderland plant produced its first-ever vehicle – a Nissan Bluebird 5-door. To show their commitment to the plant as well as to electric mobility, the company has commissioned a special, one-off conversion of the same Bluebird that was made there to run on the Nissan LEAF’s 100% electric powertrain.

Nissan Newbird and LEAF

The powertrain consists of a LEAF electric motor, an inverter, and a 40kWh battery pack. To accommodate the battery pack, they split the battery modules between the engine bay and the boot for better weight distribution.

BHPetrol_Euro5 Diesel_2021

This new powertrain enables the Newbird to get about 130 miles of range and it goes from 0-100km/h in under 15 seconds, which isn’t anything to boast about, to be honest.

Other Newbird Modifications

The original Bluebird ran on hydraulic assistance for the brakes and motors. Those had to be replaced, along with the heating system so they can take electric power. What’s more, a set of custom suspension parts were made too to accommodate the additional weight.

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.

“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.”

To give the Newbird a pop of modernity, the’ve given the Nissan bonnet badge an LED backlight that comes on whenever the vehicle is static. Its charging port is located at the original fuel flap and it takes 6.6kW AC charging. The same analogue instrument panel has been configured to display the battery state of charge in place of a fuel level. They’ve also had help from Nissan Design Europe to create a graphic motif for the car that blends 1980s consumer tech with 21st century aesthetic.

Kinghorn Electric Vehicles managed the conversion of the vehicle. It’s a family-run company in the UK that converts classic vehicles to electric vehicles using Nissan LEAF parts.

George Kinghorn said; “Given our location so close to the Sunderland plant, working on this Bluebird conversion was a great project to be part of. When Nissan opened the Sunderland factory it gave the North East a big economic boost. The Bluebird was first off the line, so it represents the start of that optimism, progress and global industrial footprint that’s continued to this day.”

George continued; “Electric vehicles are not just the future, they’re the now! Converting older vehicles to electric gives you everyday use of these iconic vintage models, but they’re just as enjoyable to drive, they’re more reliable and importantly don’t produce harmful emissions when driving. With this project we think we’ve created a car that captures the soul of the Nissan Bluebird, with the heart of a Nissan LEAF.”

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