Nissan BladeGlider All-Electric (PROTOTYPE)

Written By: Brittney B.

                                          Nissan bladeglider all-electric prototype

When it comes to mass-market electric vehicles, Nissan is already the automaker to beat. After the Nissan LEAF® hit American and Japanese markets in December 2010, it quickly became the bestselling all-electric car in the world, an honor it has maintained ever since. The zero-emission LEAF backs up high sales figures with a variety of annual accolades, including a number one spot on the Automotive Science Group's environmental performance index in 2014. However, Nissan is constantly pursuing new technologies and design strategies, and one of its latest takes on the electric car is a prototype that hints at a faster, more aerodynamic future: the Nissan BladeGlider.

Borrowing elements from its predecessors 

Race enthusiasts should recognize the BladeGlider's aerodynamic shape from the DeltaWing. A racecar with a Nissan-provided engine and name, the DeltaWing debuted as an exhibition-only Le Mans participant in 2012. Its lightweight, carbon-fiber body was similarly designed to reduce both drag and downforce, but inside the familiar, narrow front end was a four-cylinder direct injection engine. Two years later, the same designer debuted another vehicle at Le Mans, this time fitting the wedge-like chassis with a lithium-ion battery pack. The Nissan ZEOD RC, a zero-emission, hybrid-electric racecar, completed a whole lap in fully electric mode and reached a top speed of 186.4 miles per hour.

The BladeGlider is also inspiring inevitable comparisons to the LEAF®, which has the same electric motor and lithium-ion battery pack. The BladeGlider's battery though, is mounted lower and towards the rear, in an effort to stabilize and improve handling. It's also equipped with additional in-wheel motors, which allow the rear wheels to move independently. Another electric Nissan was closer to the BladeGlider, at least in shape and name: the Land Glider, a tandem-seat concept car with a battery that charged wirelessly and lasted up to 62 miles. However, the BladeGlider puts that predecessor's top speed (75 mph) to shame and widens the interior to make room for another backseat passenger, among other practical improvements. 

Nissan BladeGlider All-Electric Prototype

A race car that's safe for the streets 

During its world debut at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show — and its European debut at the 2014 Geneva Motor Show — the BladeGlider offered a first peak at an upcoming production plan that emphasizes function over form. Its bold three-seat design and rear-heavy weight distribution are just two of the features that set it apart from almost every other electric vehicle. With 70 percent of its weight over the rear wheels and much slimmer, closer together front wheels, the BladeGilder looks and acts more like a Formula One racer than an eco-friendly sports car. However, traction and power aren't its only advantages over the typical electric car.

Drivers also enjoy a panoramic, almost 360-degree view of the road, as well as an instrument panel and steering wheel-mounted display that rivals fictional spaceships. That's why critics were so surprised to learn that it's not just a showcase car. According to former executive Andy Palmer, a production-ready BladeGlider could arrive as early as 2017, with a price tag of less than $30,000. This potential version could target young and carbon-conscious drivers in mainstream dealerships, but it also might reappear as a professional racecar.