Carbonfibre, three-seater, sub-370Z electric sports car isn't high on Nissan's list of priorities, confirms new chief planning officer Philippe Klein
16 March 2015

Nissan’s radical electric BladeGlider is still classed as “an exploratory concept” 18 months after being revealed at the 2013 Tokyo motor show, with the project described as being “not among the immediate priorities” of the firm by its new chief planning officer Philippe Klein.

Described as an “anti-establishment three-seat electric sports car” and championed on its reveal by then Nissan boss Andy Palmer, who now runs Aston Martin, BladeGlider was expected to go on sale by 2017 priced at around £30,000.

Production test mules, built around an Ariel Atom, were known to have been produced, while Deltawing race car designer Ben Bowlby was reported to have been involved with the project.

But Klein, who replaced Palmer last year, said: “It is still on the table, but at the end of the day it has to make sense to the company. We have the concept car, and it has the ability to surprise, but it is not big in our plans now. Before we jump in with a production car there is a path to take - and first we must see the opportunity is there.”

The BladeGlider concept was originally described as a blueprint for an anti-establishment small electric sports car based on the principles of the Deltawing race car.

Speaking to Autocar, Bowlby said the BladeGlider would become a "handling benchmark" for the automotive industry. "It's about efficiency, it's about pulling a lot of G, it's about an exciting and pleasurable ride and yet being very efficient while doing that," he said. "So extreme handling and extreme fun and a whole new experience, a totally different driving experience.”

Speaking at the 2013 Tokyo motor show, Palmer said: "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.

"We are exploring ways of getting back to a sports car that is affordable, challenging and appealing for young people."

Styling of the production car was expected to change from that of the concept, with the BladeGlider being described by design chief Shiro Nakamura as "an extreme interpretation" of how the car could look. Like the Deltawing race car, it had an extremely narrow front track, measuring just one metre, and a much wider rear track, which Nissan only described as "stable".

The deltoid body shape of the BladeGlider concept was shown wrapped in carbonfibre-reinforced plastic, with the interior seating three people: a centrally placed passenger and two passengers either side, as pioneered on the McLaren F1 road car.

The narrow front end aids aerodynamic efficiency, while the carbonfibre underbody creates downforce without the need for drag-enhancing wings. The car's weight distribution is 30/70 front to rear, thanks largely to the low and rearward positioning of the lithium ion batteries and low weight of the in-wheel electric motors.

"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 tracks mean that the car is incredibly pointy, but the rear track and downforce mean that you can catch the oversteer with amazing ease."

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Our Verdict

The 370Z has the pace, looks, kit, value and charm, so what’s the catch?

The Nissan 370Z is seductively honest, entertaining and great value, too. But it’s no long-haul cruiser

Join the debate

Comments
12

8 November 2013
Just as the Deltawing racecar demonstrated several times, this kind of design is dangerously unstable with any kind of side impact or push - one of the key problems with this kind of triangular wheelbase. I'll take my sports car with a rectangular, 'wheel at each corner design' please. If they are crazy enough to put into production then I foresee BladeGliders in ditches all over the world....and worse, serious injuries to drivers and passengers. The lawyers will have a field day. Total madness

8 November 2013
[quote=soldi]Just as the Deltawing racecar demonstrated several times, this kind of design is dangerously unstable with any kind of side impact or push - one of the key problems with this kind of triangular wheelbase. I'll take my sports car with a rectangular, 'wheel at each corner design' please. If they are crazy enough to put into production then I foresee BladeGliders in ditches all over the world....and worse, serious injuries to drivers and passengers. The lawyers will have a field day. Total madness[/quote] I've not heard of any accidents like this involving the Morgan 3 wheeler so why would this car be any different, is it because it has one wheel at the front not the back like the Morgan?

8 November 2013
[quote=owenmahamilton] I've not heard of any accidents like this involving the Morgan 3 wheeler so why would this car be any different, is it because it has one wheel at the front not the back like the Morgan?[/quote] It's not a Morgan 3 wheeler! The DeltaWing got punted off the track in two of its limited outings because of limited side impact. If it can't stand up to a bit of 'muscling' on circuit, then why would it be any more stabe on road? Personally I would not want to in one on a motorway when somebody mistakenly pulls out whilst I was overtaking.

8 November 2013
The main cause of both of its accidents was due to its overall height being so low that the other drivers didn't see it. As the road car would be taller that no longer becomes an issue. IIRC at Le Mans when it was collected by the Toyota, the steering was damaged on collision, but then that could have happened to a car with a regular layout too, couldn't it?

8 November 2013
[quote=soldi]It's not a Morgan 3 wheeler! The DeltaWing got punted off the track in two of its limited outings because of limited side impact. If it can't stand up to a bit of 'muscling' on circuit, then why would it be any more stabe on road? Personally I would not want to in one on a motorway when somebody mistakenly pulls out whilst I was overtaking.[/quote] The accidents which took the DeltaWing out at both Le Mans and Road America were hardly "limited side impact" - at Le Mans it was sideswiped in the Porsche Curves, one of the fastest sections of the track, and at Road America it was turned in on by a Ferrari GTE car when both were under full acceleration. While the second incident did result in the DeltaWing turning over, the first did not and a "normal" LMP1/LMP2 car would have fared no better in such circumstances. Open-wheel single seaters and LMP1 cars have flipped over in similar accidents, particularly where GTE cars are involved (see Ant Davidson's crash last year) - would you therefore argue that such "normal" cars are also inherently unstable?

8 November 2013
I could explain the principles of why and how this design work but Ben Bowlby is much smarter than I, so here's a link to a Chris Harris piece on the car, where Ben explains all in a very concise and fascinating way: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_INdbXMqsw&feature=youtube_gdata_player Autocar, I'm guesing Nissan would rather you said it was inspired by the ZEOD as opposed to the DeltaWing, what with all the on-going squabbles various owners of the DeltaWing project are currently having!

8 November 2013
...tomorrow, thanks!

8 November 2013
"I've not heard of any accidents like this involving the Morgan 3 wheeler so why would this car be any different, is it because it has one wheel at the front not the back like the Morgan?" When you have 2-front wheels, at least a trike can be reasonably stable in corners, can handle reasonably high speeds through a corner while staying on the road. That it may brake traction fairly easily at the rear is less inherently dangerous. Makes it amusing at slow to fair speeds. Meanwhile if you want to go fast, it can handle that as well. That being said, the BaldeGlider, actually appears to have 4 wheels. Simply a lot narrower track at the front. So perhaps it's OK.

8 November 2013
Lets hope reality is close to concept.

8 November 2013
Given the width of the nose, together with the lack of any visible steering or suspension gear on either side, implying that they must be inboard, you need to be rather dim to think it is a three-wheeler.

 

I'm a disillusioned former Citroëniste.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    The DS 5 is hard to pigeonhole but it works as a package. Impressive French-style long-range cruiser, albeit at strong money for an unproven brand
  • Car review
    21 May 2015
    The industry's biggest power makes a plug-in hybrid for the masses
  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    The 4C improves, and the Spider is a good conversion, but it remains dynamically troubled and absurdly expensive
  • First Drive
    21 May 2015
    More traction and nothing separating Jag's monstrous V8 mouthpiece from your ears. It's the shoutiest, priciest F-Type on sale, but is it the best?
  • First Drive
    20 May 2015
    The C63 may have lost its big V8, but its replacement makes it difficult to mourn