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Innovative Paint Technology Makes a Nissan Leaf Glow-in-the-Dark

February 16, 2015

The Nissan Leaf may not have a 200-mile range, but it boasts something a Tesla Model S cannot—glow-in-the-dark paint. Nissan turned the Leaf into a glow-in-the-dark EV with the help of unique paint technology.

Glow-in-the-dark paints are nothing new, and so are car wraps that illuminate. So what’s the big deal about the pictured Leaf? The paint on the EV is the first of its kind, and Nissan is the first automaker to apply it to a vehicle. It was created specifically for Nissan by Hamish Scott. Scott is the owner of UK-based Pro-Teq Surfacing, the company behind STARPATH, which is a technology that absorbs sunlight and allows pavements to light up at night.

Scott’s special paint for Nissan is made with organic materials and contains Strontium Aluminate, a rare natural earth material. This ingredient enables the paint to absorb UV energy during the day so it can illuminate when the sun goes down. According to Nissan, the custom-made coating can absorb enough energy to make the car glow between 8 to 10 hours at night.

The Japanese automaker also said that if the paint is made available in the market, it can last for 25 years. There is no word yet if the automaker plans to apply the special coating to other production models and whether it will sell cars with the glow-in-the-dark paint.

Nissan coated the Leaf EV with the special paint for a good reason—it wanted to encourage Leaf owners to consider using solar energy at home. In a statement, the company mentioned that 89 percent of Leaf owners charge their vehicles at home overnight. Homeowners save money by using an electric car (as opposed to using a gasoline-powered vehicle), but they can save even more by tapping the power of the sun.

Nissan aims to show their Leaf customers that they can have significant savings when they combine the use of an EV and the use of solar panels at home. As the company pointed out, though solar panels do not store energy and therefore cannot provide power at night, leftover power goes back into the national grid. There is an opportunity for homeowners to get compensated by government for the power generated by their solar panels and to have their overnight EV consumption paid for.

Even without the noble mission attached to it, Nissan’s glow-in-the-dark project is awesome. Such custom paint will make any car more visible at night and also helps it deter thieves.

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