London 2012 Blowing off the Nissan Leaf

By George Straton

12.11.2009

A_london2012_logoPerhaps the Fab Four were a bit off when they heralded “money can’t buy me love.”

Because it seems that $45 million USD and the ubiquitous “oohs” and “aahs” which accompany the Blue and White Propeller, mixed in with some political fears of failure are precisely what finalized acceptance of BMWs bid to supply the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games with 4000 courtesy vehicles.

You know; the transport for athletes, IOC officials and volunteers. Does BMW seriously expect the investment required by them to become a Tier One “corporate sponsor” will pay off the way it does for another Tier One, McDonald’s? After all McDonald’s serves “Billions and Billions” each year while BMW serves barely over one million. Perhaps BMW’s numbers can swell if it licenses technology and gets another line out of it  such as that of the composite-bodied planned Mega City Car.

C_Renault_Kangoo

Renault Kangoo

Yet one cannot help feel that a real opportunity to showcase some truly innovative technology on this global stage was squandered.  And what better a stage such as London, brimming with her 12,000,000 C02, NOx and particulate emitting residents, to introduce “to be ready for prime time” electric plug in cars and vans to the world. At least that was the thinking of the other major competing bidder to supply the “Cars for the Games,” Nissan.

One such vehicle was to have been the Nissan Leaf. Another was to have been a Scion xB/Nissan Cube-type micro van based on the Renault Kangoo.

BMW’s plan is for Minis (including the Mini E), 1 and 3 series models powered by either conventional fossil fuel systems, or fossil fuel electric hybrid systems, to dominate the London 2012 courtesy car fleet. Rumors abound that the BMW MegaCity, to be developed in both plug-in electric and petroleum-powered forms, may make an appearance. But that appearance will have to be without the 100 fast charge electric charging stations that were part of the Nissan bid.

E_BMW_Project_i_Mega_City

BMW MegaCity

The LOCOG had [political] fears of the potential event delays which could ensue in the worst-case scenario of a failure of the electric charging grid or some other, as-yet-unimagined, scenario. This, coming from a nation whose government has proposed a 60% reduction in C02 emissions by 2025 and a potential mandate of 80 mpg of vehicular fuel efficiency by that same time. On a continent where the diesel engine may make a quiet exit from small less-expensive cars in 2015, when Euro Level 6 Emissions standards will require reduction of (ozone producing and ozone layer depleting) NOx emissions to 1/5 of their current levels.

Perhaps the time is right for Nissan to make a mad dash to the Rio de Janiero 2016 Olympic Games Organizing Committee.

By the way, does anyone remember the official courtesy cars for the Beijing, Athens or Sydney Olympic Games?

I thought not. At London 2012 and Rio 2016 it is sure to be a different story.

COPYRIGHT Autosavant – All Rights Reserved

Author: George Straton

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7 Comments

  1. That BMW MegaCity is kind of funky-cool.

    Was there a lot of caffeine consumed while writing this article? It seems like it was written quickly and came out machine-gun style. I like it but it’s a different style of writing.

    But concerning your question about whether this pays off for BMW in the long run, obviously someone at BMW thinks it will.

  2. If the EV contingent isn’t ready for prime time, then they’re not ready. It’s a warning to all the consumers that think they want an electric vehicle as soon as they show up on the market. Think hard about that decision!

  3. The MINI is, after all, made in England. That had to have played (and I’d say justifiably) a role in this decision. The London Organising Committee for their Olympic show is, I’d think, trying to showcase the best of Britain–not Japan.

  4. And before anyone says anything: Yes, I know that BMW is German. But their MINI division is about the closest thing to a mass-produced British car left on the island, with apologies to Ford and Vauxhall.

  5. Bill,

    True the Mini is built in Cowley, Oxfordshire, UK.

    But the Nissan plant in Sunderland (located in Northern England) is the largest automotive assembly plant in the UK, capable of pumping out 400,000 units when times are good (or twice the production at BMW’s Oxfordshire Mini Plant)

    Nissan Sunderland builds the bulk of Nissan’s city subcompact Micra and the very popular Qashqai crossover for European consumption and export.

    While Qashqai production is being moved to Japan the replacement for the Micra city car (Qazana)is about to come on line at Sunderland. Expecting a successful London 2012 bid an expansion was planned to accommodate a new battery manufacturing facility for the laminated Li-Ion units that would go into the LEAF both for domestic and export.

    When London 2012 rejected the Nissan bid speculation was the expansion of Sunderland to accomodate Li-Ion battery production might be halted.

    The grumbling is that London 2012’s decision had more to do with “up front” money BMW was paying to be a named Tier One sponsor.

  6. George,
    Ah, I see. Very interesting. Thanks for the info.
    Bill

  7. The Nissan plant there in the U.K. pumps out a lot of cars and should take a more prominent place in the British functionaries’ hearts.

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