Just like the DeltaWing and ZEOD RC racecars, it takes seeing the Nissan BladeGlider concept live to get a true appreciation for its design. But that doesn't mean it's any less weird. The wedge-shaped, three-seat concept car hit the stage today at the Tokyo Motor Show, and Nissan says the car is an "exploratory prototype" for a future production model.

The BladeGlider is defined by its design with front wheels that are just about three feet apart, while the rear has a more conventional track. Opening the scissor doors reveals a center driving position flanked by two passenger seats with a cockpit-inspired design. Although no power figures were revealed for the conceptual vehicle, Nissan does say that the BladeGlider is an all-electric vehicle with its battery pack mounted toward the rear of the car helping to provide a 30/70 weight distribution front to rear.

Check out our live images of the BladeGlider as well as the Nissan press release below.
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NISSAN BLADEGLIDER CONCEPT: LEADING EDGE EV TECHNOLOGY DRIVES THE FUTURE

From "driving" to "gliding" in a hyper-agile and ultimately efficient EV that shifts the engineering paradigm to reveal a new dimension of driving fun and excitement

YOKOHAMA, Japan (Nov. 8, 2013) - More than a concept, Nissan BladeGlider is both a proposal for the future direction of Nissan electric vehicle (EV) development and an exploratory prototype of an upcoming production vehicle from the world's leading EV manufacturer. BladeGlider was developed with form following function. Nissan crafted the vehicle's unique architecture to give the driver and passengers "sustainable exhilaration" - a fresh electric vehicle driving experience based on peerless technology and exotic styling.

Targeting the visionary individual seeking visceral driving and sustainability, BladeGlider goes beyond sheer power and acceleration to send the heart soaring into new realms of smooth "gliding" pleasure. It is a physical demonstration of the innovation and excitement of the Nissan brand and Nissan's Zero Emissions Mobility leadership. BladeGlider's pioneering spirit distinguishes it from anything yet envisioned for EVs and destines it to rule the roads of the not-so-distant future.

Re-inventing the Performance Car - A Game Changer Designed from Scratch

A clean slate was the starting point for this project, led by Francois Bancon, division general manager of Product Strategy and Product Planning at Nissan. "The goal was to revolutionise 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," said Bancon.

BladeGlider's shape alone, with its narrow front track, challenges the orthodoxy that has dominated the roads since the earliest days of the internal combustion engine. The revolutionary nature of the car is more than skin deep. New possibilities for the designers and engineers were opened up by the unique characteristics of electric vehicles.

BladeGlider has its conceptual roots in two aerial images: the soaring, silent, panoramic freedom of a glider and the triangular shape of a high performance "swept wing" aircraft.

It is therefore fitting that, in terms of engineering, BladeGlider's developmental focus was aerodynamics: achieving low drag (cdA) while generating road-hugging downforce.

Disruptive and challenging to the status quo, BladeGlider shares sustainable engineering values with both Nissan LEAF - the best-selling EV in history ─and the Nissan ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car), which will make its debut at next year's Le Mans 24 Hour race.

A Provocative Shift in the Engineering Paradigm

With its narrow, 1.0 metre lightweight front track and wide, stable rear track, BladeGlider looks as if it could have sprung from a "skunk works" project. But the radical architecture all boils down to aerodynamics and balance. Having the front wheels close together reduces drag and enhances manoeuvrability for high-G cornering power, assisted by its 30/70 front/rear weight distribution ratio. Aerodynamic downforce is created by the highly rigid yet lightweight carbon-fibre underbody, hence the lack of drag-inducing wings.

When BladeGlider matures into a production car, it could be Nissan's first use of in-wheel motors. The in-wheel motors provide rear-wheel propulsion with independent motor management, while also contributing to freedom of upper body design and space-efficient packaging.

To power the electric motors, BladeGlider employs Nissan's innovative lithium-ion battery technology, proven in Nissan LEAF. Battery modules are mounted low and towards the rear to enhance stability and handling.

Revolutionary Breakthrough in High-Performance Design

BladeGlider embodies a fearless vision of the EV future. Its tightly streamlined deltoid body comprises a tough and structurally optimised chassis wrapped in ultra-lightweight, yet strong and stiff, carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) finished in a pearlescent white colour that evokes the pristine freedom of a glider. The racing-inspired exterior features a sculpted contour that is both functional and breathtakingly beautiful. Starting from the low, flat and narrow nose, the body line rises gracefully to the cockpit canopy and then curves forcefully back over the large rear wheels, evoking a sense of dynamic movement even when the vehicle is standing still.

"BladeGlider was conceived around delivering a glider-like exhilaration that echoes its lightweight, downsized hyper-efficient aerodynamic form," said 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."

Inside the canopy, the cockpit seats three in a triangular configuration with the driver centre-forward. Seating appointments feature special light and comfortable coverings with yellow fluorescent lines. Amid simple yet edgy interior styling cues, an aircraft-type steering wheel and state-of-the-art instrumentation technology complete the glider-like image. To support maximum EV cruising efficiency, the IT system can display relief maps and atmospheric conditions.

"Free Soaring" Experience to be Shared with Friends

This efficient, aerodynamic, simple, and lightweight vehicle provides a "gliding" feel that combines the feeling of gravity-defying freedom and near-360 degree view of a glider with the pulse-quickening exhilaration of a race car.

"I think that the excitement of the racing car should be mirrored in the excitement of driving the road car," said Ben Bowlby, director of Nissan Motorsport Innovation, who has supported the BladeGlider's development. "I think there are elements we can bring from the race track to make these future road cars more exciting, more fulfilling and give greater driving pleasure."

As a rear-drive performance car, BladeGlider exhibits a coherent and linear handling that enables it to consistently hug road curves, providing feedback for intuitive and exhilarating steering control when cornering under threshold conditions.

Augmenting BladeGlider's aerodynamically-engineered precise feedback and control, the canopy-like visibility of the driving position engenders a synchronised feeling of oneness with the machine and the road. The result is a free soaring experience which the driver can share with two passengers in the V-shaped seating configuration. Passengers sit at the longitudinal centre of gravity to maintain the car's balance at all times. The centre-driving setting of the cabin space is designed to enhance the driver's sensatory experience. 

As a final touch, the driver's seat automatically slides laterally when you open the door, enabling easy access to passenger seats.

New EV Values for the Next Generation

By thinking outside the box, Nissan has created an EV that truly symbolises the unlimited potential of electric propulsion - balancing zero emissions with innovative excitement like never before.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 37 Comments
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      A big hurdle to production might be crash tests. nearly all production cars are front engine, to get the mass in front of the occupants which helps immensely in crash test. Almost all, mid or rear engine cars, except for Porsche, use an impenetrable carbon cocoon behind an aluminum crumple structure to protect the occupants. That's expensive. With a 30/70 weight distribution, this concept has very little material between the front bumper and driver. Plus this odd shape might baffle the NHSTA on how to actually test it. They might spend some time debating on how they should perform the offset front impact test. Do they base the offset as a proportion of the front track width or the rear? The answer to that question might make a big difference.
        Samuel Look
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        May I present exhibit A: Tesla model S, no front engine, safest car the NHSTA has tested EVER! The engine is completely unnecessary when it comes to safety and in fact making sure it isn't what kills the occupants is probably one of the toughest problems! Crumple zones are what it's all about! you need to disperse the energy as widely and over as long a distance as you can, not simply transfer it to another massively heavy object!
        Willy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        The front offset crash test is done only the front half of the vehicle from the centerline. Not by its widest nor middle point. And it doesn't matter where the engine is, since it doesn't absorb energy, or crumple. It designed to break from its mounts and out of the way, otherwise it will intrude into the cabin.
          Willy
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Willy
          I see where you're getting at, but a mid engine layout front structure isn't weaker than a front engine. The frame will have to withstand same loading. Most road cars engines is just a hunk of aluminum dangling on subframe w no structural purposes. Unless you want a car w massive vibrations! In short both layout probably have about the same crash performance. And far as I know nhsta and the euro ncap based on the front half of the crash structure, and Im guessing that's how they'll do it if they do.
          BipDBo
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Willy
          If the offset crash is based off of centerline width, will it just deflect off to the side. Will that make the NHSTA ask questions about a secondary collision? What about pedestrian impacts? Will they need to write new rules to protect pedestrians from getting run over by the rear wheels? It matters very much where the engine is, more importantly, where the weight is. Frontal impacts are the deign case. When the weight is behind the occupants, the crumple zone and the occupant cocoon must absorb the kinetic energy of that weight. These structures must therefore be much more robust. When the engine is in the front, so structure is needed to absorb it's kinetic energy. As you said, it simply comes off of its mounts and flies forward.
        paulwesterberg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @BipDBo
        A floor mounted battery would provide a better center of gravity and mass distribution.
      Willy
      • 1 Year Ago
      If anyone is thinking how a narrow front track handles, there's an article on Popular mechanics where Nissan engineers modded a Ariel Atom and compared back to back w a regular one. The author praised the narrow track car. Good read.
        Topshelf
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Willy
        I personally think the cars looks awesome and would love to own something like this. I honestly don't understand all the hate about it, but this is the internet. What I do find comical is that everyone is apparently an engineer and knows for a fact what does and does not work. If you drove it and it handled poorly, then I'd listen to your rant, but you guys are all just spouting useless "facts". Since I actually like the concept I just googled the article Willy mentioned.....you guys might want to give it a read. Seems that while it shouldn't work, it's quite impressive. Just saying. http://www.popularmechanics.com/cars/news/preview-concept/exclusive-sort-of-driving-the-nissan-bladeglider-concept-16178124
          edward.stallings
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Topshelf
          As an engineer, I do not claim it handles poorly. In fact I understand that it handles well, but requires a special semi-active differential to handle well. The overall layout has limitations, such as a requirement to have most of the weight at the wide track end of the car. This in turn puts an upper limit on power that can be delivered before the front end becomes very light, for a given wheelbase. It is essentially a 3 wheeler in many respects with the attendant compromises. There is a good reason why we have 4 wheeled cars with relatively wide track at the front and rear. It is not due to ignorance, happenstance or tradition. 3 wheels have been tried and retried periodically throughout automotive history and have never gained significant traction. - pun intended Using the word hate to characterize arguments about the worth of the idea is a bit silly.
      Patrick
      • 1 Year Ago
      Will they make a wider one for fat people?
      Jake
      • 1 Year Ago
      Is 30/70 weight distribution really that good of an idea?
        BipDBo
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jake
        Yes. It works very well. All of the physics in cornering, acceleration and braking pencil out very well. The DeltaWing demonstrates the math very well on real pavement. One of the big reasons is that the 30/70 weight distribution is in proportion to tire width. This is a very good design for RWD, especially with torque vectoring. AWD would work best with 50/50. The weight distribution and torque vectoring allow for the big difference in track width, which makes for a great advantage in aerodynamics. You might want to take a look at this old, three wheel kit car, the TriVette and Vigilante, which is unfortunately, no longer available. http://www.vigillante.com/vigillante1.htm It would have worked even better if it had torque vectoring.
        danfred411
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Jake
        It doesn't matter at all. The idea that 50/50 is particularly good is just wrong.
          Jake
          • 1 Year Ago
          @danfred411
          Just thinking of stability at speed. I wonder if it would have a tendency to swap ends.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      bK
      • 1 Year Ago
      Dont know what nissan is thinking but, i commend them for trying something radically different.
      BipDBo
      • 1 Year Ago
      Man I hope they build this for production, just because the other two Japanese companies (and no I don't even count Mitsubishi) are set in rut building appliance cars. Apparently, a simple sports car is too risky for them. Meanwhile, Nissan is saying "Screw you sissies!" and pushing the envelope in so many ways. I love watching them do it. Just think about the crazy, risky stuff Nissan has been doing in the past decade: * 100% pure EV for affordable mass production, not a limited production experiment * GTR: A technology powerhouse that despite having 4 seats, a steel body and heavier weight, shames much more expensive supercars. In a shockingly short development time, they built an equivalent, and in many ways superior product to the Corvette which evolved over half of a century. * Juke, Cube: Other manufacturers build funky concepts for car shows but who actually builds them? * Juke-R: Seriously? * CVTs: I personally hate the idea, but it took guts to adopt them across most of their cars. I think they may cause problems with longevity, but maybe they've actually worked them out and they will be durable. Who knows? For what it's worth, I find their cars equipped with a CVT a pleasure to drive. Very smooth. Go Nissan.
      Michael Lawler Shyu
      • 1 Year Ago
      Nissan should have Ace and Gary from the Ambiguously Gay Duo to be the mascot of the car.
      Muttons
      • 1 Year Ago
      I hate this. HATE IT. The surfacing and details and interior and everything else might be just fine. But the shape is a penis. Can't get around it. It just looks terrible.
        SloopJohnB
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Muttons
        Probably the best car ever designed, the E-type Jaguar, was essentially a penis on wheels. I just read somewhere about some dude who had his lengthened at a restomod place in UK. His Jaguar, I mean.
        Willy
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Muttons
        Never considered a penis as triangular in profile?
      Technoir
      • 1 Year Ago
      What's the point of a narrow front track when the rear track is just as wide as a regular car?
        Technoir
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Technoir
        BipDBo, A teardrop shape is aerodynamic, in other words thick in the front and slimmer in the back. This design (thin in the front, wide in the back), is not aerodynamic. If BOTH tracks were narrow I would get it..........if the rear track was narrower than the front I would get it........but not understanding this concept here. Cheers.
      edward.stallings
      • 1 Year Ago
      Perfect sports car for an ambiguously gay couple!
      Terry Actill
      • 1 Year Ago
      This is kind of cool.
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