I got to meet Robert Llewelyn from The Fully Charged Show! Aka Kryten from Red Dwarf. It was pretty cool, he was friendly in person.
The next day we were taken to the Oppama plant for a tour. We wore radio earpieces where they had a translator walk beside the tour guide giving explanations to everything. The factory dates back to the 60s and you can see its age in some places. It was fascinating watching the cars go through the assembly line. I can stand there and watch them all day, but I don't think the workers would appreciate that! We were also taken to the stamping area where they had robots wield sheets of steel around to be stamped. Afterwards there was a Q&A session with journalists and a panel of plant managers.
Here's a group shot of the Australian contingent. Coincidentally the motoring journalists are in the middle of the shot, flanked by Nissan staff, then there's us at the ends. Netball Australia and Nissan brand ambassador Jo Weston is at the back. She's very tall and easy to pick in a crowd which came in handy. Jo's a real sweetheart and lit the room up just by being there. The journos were hilarious and so, so sharp witted. Even though they work for competing publications they carried on like friends because they see each other all the time at launches all over the world. The trip was special for us but seemed almost routine for them.
They had already begun production of the new LEAF which is for sale in Japan this month. Here's a shot of the battery being installed.
One of the staff carparks. There are around 40 Nissan employees who drive LEAFs and can charge at one of the ~100 charging stations at work. It was very cool to see so many LEAFs around. Also saw a few on the streets of Tokyo of course. Also saw two Mirais for that matter!
The following day they had some more Q&A panels for the journos. Fortunately we were spared and Nissan sent us on a tour around town with a retired sumo wrestler and a tour guide/interpreter. I didn't catch his name, he actually appeared in the Mitsubishi Fuso ads. At one point when we walked past a restaurant he pointed out one of the display menus they had and said he would eat what looked like chicken nuggets. 200 in a sitting!
Finally we were taken to Nissan Global HQ where they had various EVs on display in the main hall including prototypes and the new LEAF. From there Nissan sent Jim and myself off to our next destination where we spent the next 2.5 days doing our own thing before flying back.
Bonus photo of Jim, the only white guy in the train. Japan is such a different world, we had such a blast exploring the place. I highly recommend visiting, it's as amazing as people kept telling me! I can't thank Nissan enough for giving us this opportunity, they really spared no expense for this launch. I wish the new LEAF great success and look forward to meeting a new generation of enthusiastic owners.
Credit to Mitch Oke for most of these photos. Nissan Australia even brought their own pro photographer/videographer for the trip.