Nissan EV turns ice-cream vans green

Concept uses second-life LEAF batteries to power refrigerators.

Nissan has launched an electric vehicle concept which the brand says takes the ICE (internal combustion engine) out of the ice cream van.

The concept, based on the Nissan e-NV200 electric van, was specially created for the UK’s National Clean Air Day on 20th June.

Most ice-cream vans, particularly older models, use diesel engines which are kept running to operate the refrigeration equipment. These produce harmful emissions, including black carbon, when left idling.

As a result some UK towns and cities are now looking to ban or fine these vehicles, which sparked the idea for a zero-emissions ice-cream van. The Van Expert understands that the idea came originally from a member of Nissan’s PR department.

The van is based on the e-NV200, Nissan’s electric LCV, and provides a working demonstration of the brand’s electric technology. As well as the zero-emission drivetrain, it generates energy through solar panels mounted on the roof.

Nissan ev ice cream van The Van Expert
Roof-mounted solar panels generate extra power that can be transferred to the Grid.

There are no fears of the ice-cream equipment cutting the van’s range, as it is powered by Nissan’s Energy ROAM – a portable pack that uses lithium-ion cells recovered from early first-generation Nissan electric vehicles (produced from 2010 onwards).

Re-using the cells this way provides a sustainable second life for EV batteries – while no longer of sufficient power for use in cars, they are highly suitable for providing power for such items as freezers and ice-cream makers.

The concept also updates the ice-cream van in other ways. Instead of a jingle to attract customers – not always popular with parents – it generates a tweet of the van’s precise location using the global addressing service What3Words.

As well as cash, the van takes card or phone payments via a ‘tap-to-pay’ panel on its side. Meanwhile in the winter, when it is unlikely to be out selling ice cream, it can still generate income for its owner as a storage facility.

Through a V2G (Vehicle-to-Grid) charger, the e-NV200’s battery can be used to store surplus energy from the national grid (for example renewable wind and solar energy), and provide it back to the grid when needed, balancing out the peaks in national energy demands.

Nissan ev ice cream van The Van Expert
Van uses cells from first-generation LEAF batteries to power its refrigeration equipment.

Nissan partnered with Mackie’s of Scotland, an ice cream producer powering its family-owned dairy farm by renewable wind and solar energy, to adopt a ‘Sky to Scoop’ approach – removing carbon dependence at every stage of the ice cream process.

“Ice cream is enjoyed the world over, but consumers are increasingly mindful of the environmental impact of how we produce such treats, and the ‘last mile’ of how they reach us,” said Nissan’s UK managing director Kalyana Sivagnanam.

“This project is a perfect demonstration of Nissan’s Intelligent Mobility strategy, applying more than a decade of EV experience and progress in battery technology to create cleaner solutions for power on the go – in ways customers might not expect.”

Finally, this reporter can personally confirm that the van scores in the most important area – it makes very good ice cream!

Nissan ev ice cream van The Van Expert
Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is the News and Road Test Editor for The Van Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars and vans for more than 20 years, and attends many new model launches each year.

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