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.