On Monday, Nissan announced that it deployed its first zero-emission electric ambulance. It was created for service with the Tokyo Fire Department. It is good to see fleet services slowly switching over to alternative forms of motivation. But, how does this new Nissan ambulance measure up to traditional ambulances in the United States?
Built on full-size van platform
The press release from Nissan offered some insight into how this project came into being. Nissan offered its NV400 full-size van as the platform for the electric conversion. Autoworks Kyoto and Gruau, an emergency vehicle bodywork company, handled the conversion.
“Nissan strongly believes in sustainable mobility and strives to contribute to a world with zero emissions and zero fatalities,” said Ashwani Gupta, representative executive officer and chief operation officer at Nissan. “This project is another great example of our efforts to enhance accessibility of eco-friendly vehicles to local communities.”
Nissan’s electric ambulance is powered by two lithium-ion battery packs. The first battery pack supports the vehicle. The second battery pack is used by the onboard equipment and the air conditioning.
“The ambulance can also turn into a mobile source of power in case of a power outage or natural disaster.”
The press release went on do describe the benefits of the electric ambulance over its gas counterpart. For starters, the noise level is lower, and the ride vibration is reduced. These are all good things for occupants receiving care onboard.
Quieter and smoother
“Thanks to its EV powertrain, the noise and vibration levels in the vehicle are significantly lower in comparison with a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle, helping reduce negative impact on patients as well as on staff handling sensitive equipment.”
The pictures provided by Nissan appear to show the vehicle outfitted and ready to go. But I could not help but notice how spartan the interior is when compared to ambulances in service in the United States. There are undoubtedly different regulations that must be used by an outfitter to create an ambulance. Also, road widths must be considered as well.
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Ambulances in the United States tend to be built on the Ford E-Series Cutaway. That is also a full-size van. However, the cutaway cab allows everything behind the cab to be custom-built. So, it is not unusual for American ambulances to have a large box built behind the cab to house different equipment and cabinetry. The ease of customizability of the cutaway cab makes it also a popular platform to create shuttle busses, utility trucks, and even recreational vehicles.
In a side by side comparison, the Ford has more room for people and equipment due to the custom box behind the cab. The NV400 electric ambulance would fall short. However, the truth is that given an adequate budget, any ambulance outfitter can customize a Nissan to the customer’s liking.
Nissan’s electric ambulance announcement is geared to show off the electric capability, rather than the room available in it. The ambulance is likely only the first of many to be produced in multiple configurations, including something that will measure up to the roomy ambulances built on Fords in the United States. So, expect more configurations to become available of the quiet, smoother riding electric service vehicle.