As the movie awards season kicks into high gear, Nissan design chief Shiro Nakamura appears to be implying that his company's electric-vehicle design prospects are about to go from Philomena into The Wolf of Wall Street territory.

Nakamura, speaking with Motor Authority at the Detroit Auto Show last week, allowed that the design of the five-seat Nissan Leaf is fairly conservative and will remain so given that the model continues to be the most practically-minded EV from the company. In the near future, though, Nissan is planning to head in different directions. Specifically, an all-electric sports car and a two-seat commuter vehicle that could come with in-wheel electric motors that will allow the designs to get more radical.

How radical? Well, we've heard Nissan may bring the BladeGlider concept (pictured) it unveiled at the Tokyo Motor Show late last year to production. It has a narrow front and wider rear and a 1+2 seating arrangement. Beyond that, Nissan has the two-seat Esflow concept vehicle it showed off in 2011 that could provide some hints, since it's expected that some of the design components from that car will be worked into the upcoming production models.


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  • 30 Comments
      SeadogMillionaire
      • 11 Months Ago
      It seems like Nissan is going in the wrong direction, if they want to first sell another conservative car, after the mundane "Leaf" electric car. In my opinion, electric cars should not look like gasoline cars ... they should exhibit their superiority driving with a superior design. Take two companies .. General Motors and Tesla. General Motors built the Chevy Volt a better electric car than Tesla's Roadster ... but it did not have the looks to set it apart from the pack. Tesla first sold the Roadster, with great looks BEFORE selling the more plain and generic S Model. While the Volt remains a better car (price, unlimited range) than the Tesla, it is now the Tesla making the news because it stole the imagination of the public. GM has now come out with the Cadillac ELR which even beats the Tesla in styling and design, but for a little while I expect the momentum to remain with Tesla. Nissan may prove me wrong, but I feel my argument holds true also with Ford, BMW and Fiat ... who make great electric cars, but do not have in-your-face styling like the Tesla did (and the ELR now does).
      jsongster
      • 11 Months Ago
      If they are going in 3 directions, wouldn't it be triverging?
      chanonissan
      • 11 Months Ago
      cost have always the factor, nissan have been working on in wheel motor from 2000, and had several concepts and prototypes. rememeber the pivo (2005)and pivo 2 (2007), those where in wheel concepts. Seem they are ready to introduce the technology. http://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/3d_motor.html
        Mart
        • 11 Months Ago
        @chanonissan
        Pivo 3 seems to be what happened to the Mixim concept, as it is visually more similar than to Pivo 1 and 2.
          Mart
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Mart
          Even the old 1995 FEV-II looks better than the Pivo concepts, IMO. It might appeal to Fiat 500 types.
      Spec
      • 11 Months Ago
      Hub motors and a weird 1+2 car? How about a damn sedan? Get the NV-200 mini-van on the market. Maybe a Miata like sports car? Don't go all weird.
        BraveLil'Toaster
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Spec
        While this is Nissan we're talking about here, and "weird cars" is what they *do*, I've heard this refrain over and over and over again, especially with electric cars. "The powertrain allows us to change the form dramatically, so why don't we?" I'll give you a reason. Because it means you get the "artistic license" to make a car that came from bizarro world. This is not a recipe for commercial success, unfortunately. Unless you're an artist.
        porosavuporo
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Spec
        Everybody knows you never go full **tard. Check it out. Prius "hatchback" Ugly, but not a tard. Volt ? Bizarre powertrain, no room inside, but not a tard. Tesla Roadster ? Impractical, yes, expensive, yes. But beats absolutely everything at traffic lights, that aint retarded. Ask Firsker Karma, Remember ? Went full retard, went home empty handed ..
          Grendal
          • 11 Months Ago
          @porosavuporo
          @Ronald Just keep on believing that. There are still people that believe the world is flat too. There are plenty of people that don't like that new fangled "internets" too.
          • 11 Months Ago
          @porosavuporo
          Epic sir, absolutely stupendous. I needed that.
          • 11 Months Ago
          @porosavuporo
          Who gives a dam how fast your souped up golf cart is from a stoplight? In a race from Kansas to New York, without exceeding the speed limits, my 1984 Mercury Cougar will beat your $70,000 EZ-Go coupe, simply because to get there, I can recharge my gas tank in 60 minutes total, and that includes bathroom breaks. So, while I'm drinking a Genny in Angola, you're still stuck at a charging station in Ohio.
          danfred311
          • 11 Months Ago
          @porosavuporo
          ronald went full retard. you never go full retard. And I concur with the sentiment, the bladerunner is full retard. What are they thinking. Yes you can place the front wheels close together, you could also make a batmobile. Just because you can doesn't mean you should. Especially not to the tune of a billion dollars per play. To be as ugly as the bladerunner it needs some serious merit and I don't see it. A half weight tesla roadster would be far more interesting.
          bluepongo1
          • 11 Months Ago
          @porosavuporo
          @ ron_b 1) How much does gas cost in your fake scenario ? 2) "without exceeding the speed limits" Why ? are you afraid your busted old pollution maker will fall apart ? 3) Hey, good luck with whatever makes you feel better about being poor and stuck with an '84 that's not worth the trouble to fix.
      SprinterMatt
      • 11 Months Ago
      I guess, for an EV, one seat up front is a good idea. A: Less distraction. No chatty passenger to distract you from driving... that IS why you are in the car, right? B: Less airbags = less expensive - much safer compartment for driver since he is in the center of the vehicle, not in the T-Bone zone. C: I was going to say I like having a copilot for long monotonous trips, but then I realized, it's an EV. Probably not going to be driving THAT far that I'd need one. In general, I drive my car about 85% of the time by myself... but my girlfriend would be MAD if I wanted to take my car on a date.
      Grendal
      • 11 Months Ago
      Nissan is the only company positioned to make a vehicle to compete with the Model E. It likely wouldn't be as sporty but could be somewhat competitive in price. Nissan doesn't seem interested in targeting that market though. It will make the Model E's impact that much more strong. I find it amazing that no company seems willing to press Tesla for their market and make something remotely competitive. It certainly will happen eventually but it doesn't look like anytime soon - say 2020-ish. Nissan does have the ability to lock up the low end EV market since the Leaf is the early leader for that category.
        Spec
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Grendal
        And sadly, they don't seem to be making a decent attempt at it. They aren't talking more range and they are talking weird ideas.
          Grendal
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Spec
          The video I posted on the Supercharger article from Marc Tarpenning actually explains why competitors might be so far behind.
      Neil Blanchard
      • 11 Months Ago
      Why aren't they talking about more range? They need to push their engineering to minimize aerodynamic drag and if they can achieve a Cd
        DaveMart
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Neil Blanchard
        ? Aerodynamics is the reason for the shape of the Bladerunner, although it probably can't make it into production as safety would rule it out. As for improved batteries giving greater range, they are certainly working on that too. It is a separate exercise though, as they can go into any of their electric cars.
          Neil Blanchard
          • 11 Months Ago
          @DaveMart
          The aerodynamics of the Bladerunner are not very good - in fact they are almost exactly backward. Wide and blunt at the front and tapered toward the back would be much better.
        Neil Blanchard
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Neil Blanchard
        D'oh - my post got chopped off after the 'less than' symbol ... If they could get a car with a Cd less than 0.2, then they could have a 140+ mile range on the same battery pack as the current Leaf.
          BraveLil'Toaster
          • 11 Months Ago
          @Neil Blanchard
          Because aerodynamics are for people who don't know how to build batteries, that's why.
        Spec
        • 11 Months Ago
        @Neil Blanchard
        And just offer bigger batteries too. Yeah, that is the throwing money at the problem solution but it does work.
      mikeybyte1
      • 11 Months Ago
      I like the idea of a 2 seat commuter. Or better a 1+2 seater. That would/should result in a much lighter vehicle allowing for much greater range. Many people do not have to carry 4-5 people on a regular basis. If ever. I honestly cannot think of the last time I put 3 other people in my car. It's like 1-2 times a year. There is definitely a market for a small urban 2-3 seater. Toyota aimed for it with theiQ but missed the mark. It was simply too tiny and didn't have the MPG savings you would expect with such a small vehicle.
        Grendal
        • 11 Months Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        The Aptera was the perfect EV for doing what you mention. Sadly, they went bankrupt before they went into production. You could get 100 miles on a 12 kWh pack. 120 miles on a 15 kWh pack, though that was not tested. Their final version, which was not as aerodynamic and had a terrible weight problem, tested out to 197 MPGe at the Automotive X-Prize. It would still be fun to see some of those on the road.
        Mart
        • 11 Months Ago
        @mikeybyte1
        A 2+1 makes more sense aerodynamically, as it calls naturally for a teardrop shape. High seating makes more sense than sports car seating on the floor for an urban commuter.
      DaveMart
      • 11 Months Ago
      Nissan is looking to in-wheel motors for the sports car as well as the commuter: 'Would Nissan install in-wheel motors into a production sports-car inspired by Bladeglider? “If it goes to production, we must,” insisted Nakamura. “It's not just at the concept level...We are making serious progress with in-wheel motors; cost is becoming less of an issue, and at a certain point we would like to use in-wheel motors.” “There's huge potential for something unique,” he added.' http://www.motorauthority.com/news/1089755_design-chief-daring-all-electric-nissan-sports-car-still-in-the-works And the narrow front end won't make it into production on either model: 'As for how such a future electric sports car might look, Nakamura admitted that Bladeglider has some design attributes (like its narrow front track) that might prove insurmountable for a global product—especially with respect to safety—and that any production car would likely have to be wider in front.' (ibid) In wheel motors are pretty exciting. I can't wait to see how it works out.
        GreenDriver
        • 11 Months Ago
        @DaveMart
        In wheel motors may make sense for certain applications, like NEVs but for a sports car you want to minimize unsprung wheel weight. My other thought would be that you're exposing an expensive component directly to puddles and potholes. Tesla, Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren, Audi and Mercedes all place their motors inboard.
          DaveMart
          • 11 Months Ago
          @GreenDriver
          Yep. That is the conventional thinking. Nissan's engineers obviously now think that they can make them work, just as they decided that they could make an electric car work a few years back.
      elctrNmbliT
      • 11 Months Ago
      Weird choice. It seems that Nissan has gotten over confident on the success of the Leaf. Just when GM has hinted at a Volt with a longer ev range as well as an affordable pure EV with a 200 mile range and Tesla with their more affordable Model E also with a possible 200 mile range, Nissan decides to make a low volume expensive sports car and a 2 seat commuter. I understand the marketing potential for a flashy sports car EV like the BMW i7 and Audi e-tron when a car company's EV fleet is in its infancy and they want to draw attention to their brand. It seems Nissan is doing it backwards. They are already on the ground running with the Leaf which is probably the most well know EV in the world. Why wouldn't they take advantage of that recognition and secure a spot in the midsize sedan EV and coupe EV category which we know are coming in the next 5 years. The Leaf is a great car but it doesn't cover enough market area and leaves open too many holes in the other automotive classes. The last one they should be worried about short term is the flashy sports car class and competing with the Smart EV.
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