The BladeGlider features a radical front narrow track layout, where the front is significantly narrower than the rear, creating a swept-wing profile when seen from above.
This technology follows in the footsteps of Nissan’s Zero Emission on Demand racecar (ZEOD RC), which will take part in next year’s Le Mans ‘Garage 56’ event with its narrow front-track design.
Director of Nissan Motorsport Innovation, Ben Bowlby, the designer of the ZEOD RC, was also consulted during the development of the BladeGlider.
He said: ‘When people see the narrow front track layout for the first time, they are sceptical about how the car will handle.
‘However, the concept has proved itself on the race track, running as fast as the overall contenders. I’m sure the BladeGlider will meet with the same initial scepticism, but we know it has the potential to be the best handling production car in the world.’
The weight distribution of the BladeGlider makes it ideal for quick, efficient launches from a standstill and intense acceleration once off the line.
The main reason for this is that the rear tyres are considerably wider than the front ones, resulting in more traction at the rear and enabling them to get a better grip on the driving surface.
Also, the wide rear track allows for virtually all of the car’s heavier components – including the two in-board motors, lithium-ion batteries and passengers – to sit between the rear tyres; hence, most of the car’s weight sits directly on the two driven wheels.
Thanks to the BladeGlider’s extremely narrow front end, air drag is minimal.
Another benefit of the car’s narrow front end is weight. Thanks to less hardware and smaller components, the BladeGlider’s overall kerb weight is considerably less than that of a similar-size car with a conventional front end.
The most impressive, and most remarkable, advantage that BladeGlider has over its conventional counterparts is handling. While traditional performance enthusiasts might scratch their heads wondering how a car with such a narrow front track can take corners, the answer is relatively simple.
The narrow front track of the BladeGlider allows less weight to be placed on the front wheels. While some say that more weight on the front tyres equals better grip, the opposite is actually true. Sure, with super-wide tyres, extra load may result in more grip, but this is not an efficient solution, nor is it always the case.
The wide rear track and wide rear tyres also contribute to the BladeGlider’s exceptional handling. By providing a stable and rigid foundation for the car, they allow the car’s front tyres to effectively point the nose of the vehicle in the right direction.
Think of a sledgehammer and its handle. Put the hammer on the ground and move the handle in the desired direction. It can be done with relatively little effort because the head of the hammer is providing a stable foundation.
This unique effect of the BladeGlider can be enhanced with torque vectoring (or an enhanced limited slip differential) that can be programmed into the in-wheel motors, allowing the rear tyres to help point the car’s nose.
Unlike conventional road vehicles, the rear brakes of the BladeGlider do more work than the front brakes when slowing the car down; therefore, they are larger and more powerful than the front brakes (the opposite is true in all other road cars).
This provides a tremendous advantage when braking from high speed, as the wider tyres, which have most of the car’s weight on them, provide excellent traction when decelerating.
With the rear tyres doing most of the work during acceleration and braking, and the front tyres providing grip through turns, the overall performance workload at the four points of contact is distributed ideally: the front tyres steer the car, the rear tyres propel and stop the car.
With the driver sitting in the middle of the cockpit and near the rear wheels, the BladeGlider’s chassis relays clear and immediate feedback to the driver. Therefore, when the car’s front or rear tyres lose grip, the chassis lets you know immediately, giving the driver ample time to correct the car’s trajectory.
Another added benefit is tyre wear, or lack thereof. Each rear tyre and each front tyre are doing an equal amount of work so their wear rate is also equal. Conventional cars frequently suffer from uneven tyre wear, but the BladeGlider won’t require a tyre change as often as a conventional car, especially when subjected to aggressive, spirited driving.