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Auto Show:  2014 Alt Car Expo And Conference

Nissan BladeGlider Concept: Santa Monica AltCar Expo


author photo by Josh Sadlier September 2014

What Is It?

Which roadster has three seats, scissor doors, an individual electric motor driving each rear wheel, and a body that evokes the Michael Keaton-era Batmobile? That would be the Nissan BladeGlider concept, a wild battery-powered sports-car concept based on the just-as-wild ZEOD RC hybrid race car.

The way Nissan sees it, current electric cars don't exactly get people's pulses pounding (except for the expensive Tesla Model S) -- and therein lies an opportunity. The BladeGlider would be priced much more affordably than the Model S, and its otherworldly looks and performance could make it a halo car for the environmental age.

One of the BladeGlider's most distinctive features is its incredibly narrow 1.0-meter front track, which is a length that's more in line with a wheelbarrow than a sports car. Within the Lambo-like doors, which form a speedboat-style open canopy (unless the removable hardtop is in place), the cockpit is comprised of a center-mounted driver's seat with controls and displays that look like they came out of a fighter jet. Two passenger seats flare out behind the driver's seat (one on each side), taking advantage of the widening bodywork toward the rear.

Mechanically, there isn't much hard data yet, but the idea is to provide intuitive sports-car handling in spite of the BladeGlider's lopsided 30-to-70 front-to-rear weight distribution. Having a powerful electric motor within each rear-wheel hub (like the ZEOD RC) will certainly make the engineers' jobs easier. Since each wheel has its own dedicated motor, traction loss in corners (i.e., course-altering oversteer or understeer) can be automatically corrected by independently modulating the power output of each motor as required. Energy flows from a lithium-ion battery pack mounted under the rear seats, much like the one in the current Nissan LEAF.

Will They Ever Sell It?

According to various industry sources, yes, they will -- perhaps by the end of the 2016 calendar year. With any luck, the price will stay in Chevrolet Volt territory. We're thinking $40,000-plus.

Why It's Important

Teslas aside, what's the last electric car that gave you that gotta-have-it feeling? If the Nissan BladeGlider concept makes it to production, it could change the way we feel about electric vehicles and driving enjoyment.

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Nissan BladeGlider Concept: Santa Monica AltCar Expo - Autotrader