A group of students heard about the latest developments in automotive engineering and technology during a visit to the Nissan Technical Centre Europe. Students on the IMI (Institute of Motor Industry) course toured the facility, based at Cranfield in Bedford, seeing how car components are tested hundreds of thousands of times and learning that simulations are now so accurate that cars can be designed, virtually constructed and crash-tested by computer before a single component has been manufactured.
Students saw the all-electric Nissan Leaf which has a range of 100 miles between recharges and is £500 cheaper to run per year than an average conventionally fuelled car. The students heard about the latest anti-theft devices that are crucial, especially as the individual components in a three-year-old car are now worth more individually than the car itself.
DT teacher Mr Barrett accompanied the 15 students. He said: ‘I liked the technology we saw and the fact that Nissan are innovating. They showed us the chambers where they test the vehicles working at minus 20 to minus 30 degrees. They also had a machine opening and shutting a car door. It had been running for three weeks and it would run for a further three weeks opening and shutting that door 100,000 times in total. They make sure that everything is compliant with the standards for each and every country they export to, whether that is the engine, the mechanism opening the doors or making sure that the lights are right for each country’s specific legislation.
‘They design the car purely on a computer to component level. Before they have even thought about building it they would have crash tested it on the computer. They can simulate everything. It is amazing to see how far ahead they are. They are one of the most successful car manufacturers in the world now. The students enjoyed it as is showed what really goes into making a modern car; even I had not realised how computerised the process had become.’