THE global shift towards electric or plug-in hybrid eco-cars has mainly involved practical, no-nonsense city cars with little regard for the fun side of driving.
So far, only BMW and Tesla have shown a shift towards sports orientation, BMW with its i8 and Tesla with its Model S.
Now Nissan has shown its take on an all-electric sports car with a working prototype called BladeGlider, a snappy three-seater combining zero emissions with high-performance in a sports car design, the Nissan Zeod that had its gestation at the famous Le Mans 24-hour car race.
Nissan wants enthusiasts to look forward to a zero emission future and believes BladeGlider is a perfect demonstration of that, referring to its creation as ‘the electric vehicle for car lovers'.
BladeGlider is completely electric, using a powertrain developed by Britain's Williams Advanced Engineering, a division of Williams Formula One and powertrain supplier to the World Formula E Championship, a racing series for all-electric open-wheel racing cars.
Using a 220-kilowatt battery and two 130-kilowatt electric motors (one for each wheel), combined power output is 200 kilowatt, enough for the car to achieve a maximum speed ‘in excess of' 190km/h after punching from standstill to 100km/h in less than five seconds.
BladeGlider even has torque vectoring, an electronic system that controls torque delivery to the driven wheels by automatically sending more torque to the outside wheel to restore the handling balance whenever the car starts to understeer.
In true sports car thinking, Nissan has designed the system to add to the driving experience rather than govern it, engineering-in three driver-controlled settings: ‘off', ‘agile' and ‘drift mode'.
BladeGlider's design brief took three ideas -- intelligent mobility, environmental harmony and sports car driving capabilities – and turned them into the thinking person's sports car, a vehicle offering driving fun and excitement with a social conscience.
The car has an advanced chassis configuration with a narrow front track and wide rear track for optimum aerodynamic efficiency and handling stability and combines that layout with a high waistline, rear-hinged, swing-up doors and an open roof with integrated roll-over protection structure giving the feel of an open-topped sports car with the safety of a coupé.
The cockpit features a single, centrally-mounted drivers' seat with two individual seats behind to maximise both legroom and the view (Nissan calls it an ‘arrowhead' seating layout). Not surprisingly, each seat is fitted with a four-point seatbelt.
The ‘driver command centre' combines steering wheel-mounted controls and an advanced display panel showing car speed, battery charge, regeneration mode and a torque map.
Two screens showing the images of rear-view cameras mounted just behind the front wheels flank the instrument panel. An alternative to door-mounted mirrors, they help improve BladeGlider's aerodynamic efficiency.
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