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Nissan plots BladeGlider production (2014)

By Ben Pulman

Motor Industry

03 January 2014 10:30

Last month we brought you spyshots of Nissan’s new Almera hatchback; this week it’s the altogether more enticing news that bosses at the Japanese car giant hope to put the wacky BladeGlider concept car into production.

The ‘swept wing’ BladeGlider is inspired by Nissan’s ZEOD RC, the company’s entry into the 2014 Le Mans 24-hours, and it seems production of the crazy concept is a possibility. ‘It’s in our mid-term plan,’ Nissan chief planning officer Andy Palmer revealed to CAR. ‘Our intention is to do it.’

Remind me what the Nissan BladeGlider is…

Unveiled at the 2013 Tokyo motor show, the BladeGlider has a front track that is just one metre wide, which is claimed to improve not just aerodynamics, but also agility and handling. There’s a 30:70 front-to-rear weight distribution because the lithium-ion battery pack is mounted towards the back of the car, and each reach wheel contains an electric motor.

‘It’s the antidote to the traditional sports car,’ claims Palmer. ‘It changes your perception of how a car handles: the weight is over the back wheels, it drifts in a neutral way, and it’s guilt-free fun. It looks entirely different, it’s fun to drive and it doesn’t harm the planet. Never in my life have I driven a car that drives like that. Nothing drives like it.

When will the BladeGlider be built?

There's a big legal fight for Nissan to overcome before it can move towards stamping out production BladeGliders. Racing team Panoz, which backed the original Nissan-powered DeltaWing racing car of Le Mans in 2012, has filed a cease-and-desist order against Nissan regarding the BladeGlider's design.

Panoz wants full intellectual rights to the outlandish-looking set-up, which the brand could license out to racing teams and automakers, according to industry source Automotive News.

What about a Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86 rival instead?

Nissan previewed just such a car with the IDx Nismo and IDx Freeflow concepts in Tokyo, but Palmer is more excited about the potential of the BladeGlider to changes young people’s perceptions and attitudes towards cars.

‘Most of us aspired to a sports car when we were 20-something, as a sports car had that rebellious image, and now we’re looking for something to get the youth to aspire to a sports car again. Kids have gone through school with the car being demonised. I want a car that transcends expectations of what a sports car is, but still something your dad wouldn’t like you to have, and that’s the Blade Glider.’

Sounds good, but we’d still quite like an IDx Nismo too.