The Nissan Bluebird was a compact car better known in North America as the Altima, a nameplate that remains part of the company’s current lineup for the United States. For the European market, the U11 series of the model was produced in Sunderland, UK, in a Nissan factory that is now celebrating its 35th birthday. To mark the important anniversary, the automaker has created a rather special one-off project.
What you see in the gallery below is a Nissan Bluebird transformed into an electric vehicle. Now wearing the Newbird name, the vehicle uses the drivetrain of a Nissan Leaf, including the motor, inverter, and 40-kWh battery pack. The battery modules were installed between the engine bay and boot for better weight distribution with Nissan saying the transformation required extensive modifications to the Bluebird’s body and chassis.
Gallery: Nissan Bluebird electric vehicle
The Newbird is not homologated for use on public roads, though Nissan estimates it can travel around 130 miles (209 kilometers) before the battery needs a recharge. The 0-62 miles per hour (0-100 kilometers per hour) acceleration takes 15 seconds, and the battery can be recharged with up to 6.6 kW. The charging port replaces the original fuel flap and even the fuel gauge on the original instrument now displays the battery state of charge.
Visually, the car looks almost completely stock and we have to admit the work done by Kinghorn Electric Vehicles, a family-run company for EV transformations, is fantastic. The only little sign that this is indeed a zero-emissions machine is the illuminated Nissan badge on the front fascia. Under the original skin, the Newbird hides a completely revised suspension to support the additional weight from the battery packs.
“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,” Alan Johnson, VP at Nissan’s Sunderland factory.