The Qashqai will be the first Nissan model produced in Europe to be fitted out with extensive lightweight aluminium panels, making a weight saving of 60kg on the previous version. The bonnet, doors and front fenders will all be stamped from aluminium alloy, with the weight reduction helping reduce on-road emissions as well as accommodate the heavier EV powertrain option.
Scrap metal from the pressing process is then sent to the Cyclone, which shreds and blasts it at more than 150km, with the ensuing material returned to suppliers to be reformed into new aluminium sheets. This closed-loop recycling process is claimed to make an energy saving of 90 per cent compared with the production of virgin aluminium.
In addition to the Cyclone, the Sunderland plant has also invested in a second extra-large press line for the doors and bonnets, capable of 15 precision strokes per minute. In total, a £52m investment in aluminium production has been made, which has also included training for workers at the plant in how to deal with highly explosive aluminium dust. Nissan says it is targeting carbon neutrality across the company's operations and the life cycle of its products by 2050.
“We continue to look for ways to make both our vehicles and our manufacturing process more sustainable and the use of lightweight aluminium in the new Qashqai is a great example,” said Alan Johnson, vice president Manufacturing at Nissan Sunderland.
“We continue to improve the efficiency and sustainability of our manufacturing operations and Sunderland will play a key role in meeting the company’s commitment to carbon neutrality.”