15. November 2013
Nissan has developed the BladeGlider electric vehicle concept, one that features a form that takes advantage of the EV powertrain layout, which doesn’t require the approach that has long been taken by internal combustion-powered cars, which regularly have a rectangular plan view. The BladeGlider has a tapered, narrow front track (1-m wide).
No big engine that needs to be placed there. So make it narrow.
Said Francois Bancon, division general manager of Product Strategy and Product Planning at Nissan, “The goal was to revolutionize 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.”
Perhaps said another way: EVs can be cool.
The narrowness of the front is functional. That is, it helps reduce drag. It allows high-G cornering (think of it being more like a motorcycle than a conventional car). And not only is the front smaller, but most of the vehicle mass, including the lithium-ion batteries, are positioned in the back area so that the weight distribution is 30/70. In addition, it is a rear-drive car. The drive is provided by wheel motors.
Shiro Nakamura, Nissan senior vice president and chief creative officer, said, “BladeGlider was conceived around delivering a glider-like exhilaration that echoes its lightweight, downsized, hyper-efficient aerodynamic form. The 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 pleasure can be shared by three people, the capacity of the cabin. The seating is arranged in a V-shaped configuration so that the passengers are sitting at the longitudinal center of gravity to enhance the vehicle balance (that narrow front end would undoubtedly make it a bit tippy compared with a conventional car where the track difference between front and rear is typically no more than a matter of an inch or so); the driver sits behind an aircraft-style steering wheel.
Although regulations will certainly play their role in getting more EVs on the road, there will probably have to be efforts like creating things like the BladeGlider, which may make the alternatives more appealing. According to Autodata, from January through October, 18,078 Nissan LEAFs, 18,782 Chevy Volts, 16,251 Telsa Model Ss, 1,006 Mitsubishi is, and 495 Honda Fit-EVs were delivered, or a total of 54,612 vehicles.
While certainly not an apples-to-apples comparison, it is worth comparing that 10-month 54,612 number with 63,803, the number of Ford F Series trucks delivered. . .in October alone.
*As viewers of Blade Runner know, replicants aren’t big on showing emotion, so they probably wouldn’t find the BladeGlider to be all that appealing. And as people who haven’t viewed Blade Runner don’t know, the Deckard in the headline is a reference to the character played by Harrison Ford in the film.