Electric car glows with green credentials

Nissan has become the first mainstream manufacturer to apply glow-in-the-dark car paint to showcase how its all-electric Leaf can help people convert to solar energy at home.

The manufacturer worked with inventor Hamish Scott, creator of Starpath, which is a spray-applied coating that absorbs UV energy during the day so that it glows for between eight and 10 hours when the sun goes down.

While glowing car paint is already available, as are glow-in-the-dark car wraps, the bespoke, ultraviolet-energised paint created especially for Nissan is unique thanks to its secret formula made up of entirely organic materials. It contains a very rare natural earth product called Strontium Aluminate, which is solid, odourless and chemically and biologically inert.

Various third-party companies have applied non-organic glow-in-the-dark paint to vehicles before, but Nissan is the first car maker to directly apply such technology.

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Nissan's unique paint, if made commercially available, would last for 25 years.

With running costs of just 3c or less per kilometre to run, the UK's 7500-plus Nissan Leaf owners have reported significant savings since switching to the electric car.

Among the more popular uses of the extra cash is having solar panels installed for the home, which decreases the household carbon footprint and means owners are effectively charging their vehicle for free.

Research released recently by Nissan showed that 89 per cent of Leaf owners charge their cars at home overnight. Although solar panels do not store energy or provide it outside of daylight, any leftover power generated during the day is fed back into the national grid. Leaf owner Ian Finch is one of those who has combined the savings offered by running an all-electric vehicle with solar panels to power his home.

"Running the Nissan Leaf costs a sixth of the amount we'd pay to run a diesel or petrol car," he said. "Overall, we are probably using 25 per cent less electricity thanks to our solar panels." It was great to drive the Leaf on free power, he said.