Nissan BladeGlider to debut at Tokyo Motor Show
Normally, when we see a prototype, we know that it may have little to do with the future of the automobile. These exercises in extravagance often provide us with the sort of eye candy that keeps designers and leather makers happy, but have little basis in any future reality. What gives pause here are the use of these phrases in the Nissan press release:
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.
When BladeGlider matures into a production car, it could be Nissan’s first use of in-wheel motors.
This is the type of language that does not appear unless there is serious intent to follow through. So let’s take a closer look at BladeGlider.
First, it should be noted that BladeGlider is a three passenger vehicle. The driver sits front and center, with room for two passengers behind. Immediately, that will limit its usefulness. This is not the one vehicle for the family, but then again, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, in 2009 Average Vehicle Occupancy was 1.55 for cars. The highest average occupancy rate for vans was 2.35 (found here). Just observing vehicles around us on our daily commute will bear these numbers out. So it could very well be that a vehicle the size of the BladeGlider would work for many people a vast majority of the time. Now lets take a closer look at the car itself.
BladeGlider has a lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic (CFRP) body wrapped around a carbon fiber underbody. With a narrow front end broadening into a more normally proportioned rear track BladeGlider is multi-dimensionally wedge shaped. One particular item of interest was the use of in-wheel motors powering the rear wheels. Nissan states that the vehicle would use lithium-ion batteries – presumably the next generation which should provide greater range. No word from Nissan on when BladeGlider might make it into production.