Nissan BladeGlider concept puts an electric wing on the road

Born from a desire to take open-wheel racing into the 21st century, the DeltaWing race car has struggled along for the past few years, searching for a niche to demonstrate its fuel-saving attributes. No automaker has embraced its design more than Nissan, which has hired the DeltaWing's designer for its own experimental race cars. Today, Nissan revealed it's considering ways to make a wing-shaped electric sports car more than a track toy.

Set for a Tokyo Motor Show unveiling later this month, Nissan says the three-seat BladeGlider concept combines "both a proposal for the future direction of Nissan electric vehicle development and an exploratory prototype of an upcoming production vehicle." Built from a carbon-fiber frame, the meter-wide front performs the same trick as the DeltaWing — reducing aerodynamic drag to unheard-of levels for greater efficiency, while allowing the rest of the body to generate downforce for better grip.

In this version, Nissan says the BladeGlider would draw power from in-hub electric motors at each rear wheel, an idea that's been floating around the industry for more than a decade. Nissan doesn't specify what kind of power or performance it would grant the BladeGlider, touting instead a driving experience that would emulate flying a jet along the road.

In digital form, the BladeGlider looks fascinating, much like the Infinit Emerg-E from Nissan's luxury arm did a year ago. That concept never made it to production; despite Nissan's billion-dollar commitment to the Leaf EV, it's been reluctant to step beyond the safety of commuter electric cars. The question isn't whether Nissan could put something this radical on the road, buy why it wouldn't.