Back in November 2013, Japanese automaker Nissan unveiled the BladeGlider concept car at the 2013 Tokyo Motor Show, a car which it promised would revolutionize both the world of sports cars and the world of car design forever.
Based on the DeltaWing LMP car raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in 2012 and which Nissan provided the engine for — and the subsequent plug-in hybrid ZEOD race car Nissan built shortly afterwards — the BladeGlider was Nissan’s all-electric vision for sports cars of the future. With a low-slung, lightweight carbon fiber reinforced plastic body, long wheelbase and deltoid shape, it was unlike anything Nissan had contemplated bringing to market before. Unveiling it, Nissan’s then Executive Vice President Andy Palmer described it as an “anti-establishment three-seat electric sports car” that would likely go on sale some time before 2017 priced from just £30,000.
Two years later, and the likelihood of the BladeGlider being a production vehicle in just a year’s time are somewhat slim.
As AutoCar reports, Nissan is believed to have spent some time building production test mules of the BladeGlider following its 2013 debut as a concept car. It is even rumored that the original designer of the DeltaWing LMP car Ben Bowlby — who joined Nissan as its Director of Motorsport Innovation in 2013 — helped develop several working cars.
Back in 2013, Bowlby had said that that the unusual vehicle would become something of a handling benchmark for future sports cars, promising that its high energy efficiency and pleasurable ride would combine the high G-forces and poised handling of a sports car with a level of efficiency never before seen.
Today however, Palmer’s replacement at Nissan — Chief Planning officer Philippe Klein — is more cautious about bringing the BladeGlider to market.
“It is still on the table,” he told AutoCar. “At the end of the day, it has to make sense to the company. We have the concept car, and it has the ability to surprise, but it is not big in our plans now. Before we jump in with a production car there is a path to take — and first we must see the opportunity is there.”
In other words, Nissan has bigger priorities.
When it debuted back in 2013, we said that the BladeGlider rewrote the EV Rulebook, both in terms of vehicular design but also in terms of efficiency. With a 30/70 weight distribution, the BladeGlider featured in-wheel electric motors driving the rear wheels, while the driver sat in a central position looking out through a wrap-around windshield towards the BladeGlider’s narrow, elongated nose.
Two passenger seats, located to the rear of the driver’s seat and offset to each side, offered each occupant a commanding view of the road ahead.
But while Nissan says it has priorities other than the deltoid BladeGlider at the moment, we think it’s also worth noting that a legal challenge from Delta Wing Project 56 might also have slowed down all or some production plans for the unusual plug-in.
Back in December 2013 the U.S. company — backed by nicotine-patch king and racing tycoon Don Panoz — took Nissan to court for copyright infringement over the design of both its Delta Wing ZEOD race car and its BladeGlider Concept Car. The designs, Panoz claimed, were the intellectual property of his company and not that of Nissan. Given Panoz had originally employed Bowlby — who penned the design of the original Delta Wing race car Panoz funded and raced in 2012 — we think it’s likely Nissan is playing it safe until any and all litigation has run its course.
Either way, if you’ve been eagerly awaiting your brand-new delta-wing sports car from Nissan, you may want to make alternative plans.
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