A striking one-off being described as an "exploratory prototype for an upcoming production vehicle," the Nissan BladeGlider is on target to be one of the stars of the Tokyo Auto Show. Embracing fundamental design elements first seen on the Nissan DeltaWing racer and more recently on the Nissan ZEOD RC hybrid-electric Le Mans prototype, this street-legal and decidedly cool EV-powered roadster also offers a first look at the thinking that Nissan says may shape the character of its future zero-emissions vehicles.
"BladeGlider was conceived around delivering a glider-like exhilaration that echoes its lightweight, downsized hyper-efficient aerodynamic form," commented Shiro Nakamura, Nissan's senior vice president and chief creative officer. "This design is more than revolutionary; it's transformational, applying our most advanced electric drive-train technology and racetrack-inspired styling in the service of a new dimension of shared driving pleasure."
Francois Bancon, division general manager of Product Strategy and Product Planning at Nissan, put an even more practical spin on the BladeGlider's ultimate mission, noting: "The goal was to revolutionize the architecture of the vehicle to provoke new emotions, provide new value and make visible for consumers how Zero Emissions can help redefine our conception of vehicle basics."
Like the competition models that served as its inspiration, the BladeGlider is a carbon fiber-intensive exercise that features a triangular footprint with narrow-front/wide-rear track dimensions and a minimal frontal area for enhanced aero efficiency. Purposefully sculpted composite bodywork complements a shaped undertray designed to generate downforce without requiring any external wings or spoilers, while the open cockpit affords a panoramic view for all within. Motive force for the BladeGlider is supplied by a motor in each of its rear wheels, an innovative approach that Nissan says it may introduce "when BladeGlider matures into a production car." Capable of being independently controlled to further enhance the maneuverability and cornering capability of its future-think sportster, the wheel motors are energized by a pair of lithium-ion battery packs mounted low and aft to further optimize the BladeGlider's ultimate handling potential - which the automaker indicates will be formidable.
The BladeGlider's cabin reprises the delta theme, offering seating for three: a centrally-positioned driver and two rear passengers - whom Nissan points out, occupy space at the car's exact longitudinal center of gravity to maintain ideal balance at all times. Reflecting a stylish mix of automotive and aircraft design, the BladeGlider features a multifunction yoke-style steering wheel that overlooks its state-of-the-art reconfigurable instrument cluster. As one would expect, Nissan's nascent EV also is equipped with all of the requisite range-enhancing support functions and has a navi system that can display both conventional and terrain-charting relief maps as well as current weather conditions. Speaking of the weather, the BladeGlider can be fitted with a removable top panel -- to allow fun running even when the sun isn't shining.
No word yet on when we might see a production version of the Nissan BladeGlider Concept turn up in a showroom. And making it fully compliant with federal crash regulations will present a formidable challenge. That said, we're hoping the automaker is serious about its statement that a volume-build variant "will rule the roads of the not-so-distant future."
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