If performance car enthusiasts think the Nissan Leaf is a bit tame for their likes, within three years Nissan intends to produce a “fearless vision of the EV future,” the delta-bodied BladeGlider electric sports car based on the ZEOD electric race car.
Tech details are few at this point, but a concept version – accentuating extreme aspects expected to be toned down for the production version – will be revealed at the Tokyo Motor Show this month. Nissan is calling the sharp-handling, rear-wheel-drive car a “game changer designed from scratch.”
To be retained in the production iteration are the avante garde prototype racer’s unconventional design parameters of extremely light weight to maximize propulsion and road manners, narrow, 1-meter-wide aerodynamic front track, wide-and-stable rear, and weight distribution of 30:70.
Yes, this weight distribution flies in the face of a 50:50 ideal striven for by traditional sports cars, but Nissan has been proving its outside-the-box thinking with electric, hybrid and gas-powered Deltawing racers that otherwise follows Lotus designer Colin Chapman’s oft-repeated mantra: “Simplify, then add lightness.”
Like a McLaren P1, the BladeGlider will feature 1+2 seating – one driver in front, two passengers aft.
As for the “3-year” production timeframe in our headline, Nissan USA Director of Corporate Communications Travis Parman said he could not confirm a timeline, however after speaking with Nissan’s engineering chief Andy Palmer, the UK’s Autocar stated the three-year timeframe for the BladeGlider’s production.
Palmer also estimated pricing at well below $48,000 (£30,000) – and bear in mind UK pricing is generally higher, for example a UK-market Chevy Volt before subsidies is in this same ballpark, so Nissan is aiming for an inexpensive EV, in the scheme of things.
And beyond relative affordability – without specifying power and range – Palmer said the antithesis design has necessary ingredients in place for a superlative three-seater play car.
“When I was growing up the principle was that young people wanted a sports car and their parents hated the idea of them – the problem with all of today’s sports cars is that they are actually owned by parents,” said Palmer. “We are exploring ways of getting back to a sports car that is affordable, challenging and appealing for young people.”
Nissan acknowledges the car – which may be its first to employ in-wheel motors, and borrows li-ion energized powertrain tech from the Leaf – does looks like someone’s project car.
“But the radical architecture all boils down to aerodynamics and balance. Having the front wheels close together reduces drag and enhances maneuverability for high-G cornering power, assisted by its 30/70 front/rear weight distribution ratio,” says Nissan in a statement. “Aerodynamic downforce is created by the highly rigid yet lightweight carbon-fibre underbody, hence the lack of drag-inducing wings.”
The body will utilize lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) and the demographic targeted is forward looking, environmentally conscious, tech fans who also want sporting prowess.
“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.”
The car is said to provide a near 360-degree view and “gliding” feel and Palmer was further quoted by Autocar saying it delivers a unique viscerally rewarding experience.
“I’ve driven the prototype, and it is unlike anything I have sampled before,” said Palmer. “This is the car that takes advantage of all the packaging benefits of an electric powertrain. All that weight and the set-up of the front racks means that the car is incredibly pointy, but the rear track and downforce mean that you can catch the oversteer with amazing ease.”
Ben Bowlby, director of Nissan Motorsport Innovation, who has supported the BladeGlider’s development further reinforced the intent is to bring Nissan’s far-out experimental racers’ tech to a car you can buy.
“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.”