577d1ba4-361b-43f8-9f33-9f4a8599ecbcYOKOHAMA, Japan – Nissan unveiled its latest sports concept, the NISSAN BladeGlider, which will challenge conventional thinking on sports car performance handling, braking and weight distribution. The NISSAN 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 directly above the vehicle. This technology follows in the footsteps of Nissan’s  ZEOD  RC  Zero Emission on Demand racecar (ZEOD RC), which will participate  at  next  year’s  Le  Mans  “Garage 56” event with the narrow front-track design. Director of Nissan Motorsport Innovation, Ben Bowlby, the designer of the ZEOD RC, also consulted during the development of the BladeGlider.

“When  you  see  the  narrow  front  track  layout  for  the  first  time, everyone  is  skeptical  on how   the  car  will  handle,”  said  Bowlby.” The concept  has  proved  itself  on  the  race  track running as fast as the overall contenders.  And  I’m  sure  the  BladeGlider  will  meet  with  the same   initial skepticism, but we know, after extensive testing on the racetrack with race drivers behind the wheel, the Nissan BladeGlider has the potential to be the best handling production car in the  world.”

Bowlby  outlined  the  performance  advantages  of  the  BladeGlider’s  narrow  front-track/wide rear-track design.

The weight distribution of the BladeGlider makes it ideal for quick, efficient launches from a standstill and intense acceleration once off the line. The primary reason for this is that the rear tires are considerably wider than the front tires, resulting in more traction at the rear, enabling the tires 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  tires; hence,  most  of  the  cars’  weight  (70 percent in this case) sits directly on the two driven wheels. Therefore, when the power is sent to the rear wheels, the mid-engine/rear-drive BladeGlider exhibits very little tire slip, allowing the 285/35 tires to bite into the driving surface and launch the car in a highly efficient manner.

Thanks to the BladeGlider’s  extremely  narrow  front  end,  which  includes  the skinny  100/80 tires, air drag is minimal. The BladeGlider features one of the lowest Cds ever for a concept road car,  allowing  the  car  to  “glide”  to  speed with  little  air  resistance.

Another benefit to the  car’s  narrow  front  end  is  weight.  Thanks  to  less hardware  and smaller components,  the  BladeGlider’s  overall  curb  weight is considerably  less  than  that of  a similar size car with a conventional front end.

The most impressive, and most remarkable, advantage the BladeGlider has over its conventional counterparts is handling. While traditional performance enthusiast may scratch their respective 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 tires equals better grip, the complete opposite is actually true.

Sure, with super wide tires, extra load may result in more grip, but this is not an efficient solution, nor is it always true. For example, front-heavy cars are prone to excessive understeer – the loss of grip at the front wheels, where the car does not turn as much as the steering demands. The thinner tires up front  allow  the BladeGlider  to  turn  in  crisply  because  only  30  percent  of the car’s  total   weight rests upon them. An added benefit is improved steering in terms of effort, feel and precision.

Also, the narrow front track allows the car to have minimal lateral weight transfer through corners, at both the front and rear ends. Cars with wider front tracks dramatically shift their weight to the outside tire when turning, leaving the inside tire to do virtually nothing. Thus, only one tire is steering the car through a corner; but with the BladeGlider, both tires stay in good contact with the road surface and share nearly the same cornering load, virtually working as one unit. And thanks to the independent suspension system, each tire’s effectiveness is augmented through turns.

The  wide  rear  track  and  wide  rear  tires  also  contribute to the BladeGlider’s exceptional   handling. By  providing  a  stable  and  rigid foundation  for  the car,  they  allow  the  car’s  front   tires to effectively point the nose of the vehicle in the right direction. Think of a sledge hammer 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  tires 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  tires,  which  have  most  of  the  car’s   weight on them, provide excellent traction when decelerating. With the rear tires doing most of the work during acceleration and braking, and the front tires providing grip through turns, the overall performance workload at the four points of contact is distributed ideally: the front tires steer the car, the rear tires 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  tires  lose  grip,  the  chassis  lets you  know  immediately,  giving  the driver ample time to correct car’s  trajectory.

Another added benefit is tire wear, or lack thereof. Each rear tire and each front tire are doing an equal amount of work (as noted above), so their wear rate is also equal. Conventional cars frequently suffer from uneven tire wear, but the BladeGlider  won’t  require   a tire change as often as a conventional car, especially when subjected to aggressive, spirited driving.


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