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New York show: Nissan aims for sports foursome

Arrowing in: Nissan's radical BladeGlider electric sportscar can be built to crash regulations, says Nissan product chief Andy Palmer.

Electric BladeGlider and retro IDx in the mix for Nissan's new-look sports line-up

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Nissan logo18 Apr 2014

By RON HAMMERTON

NISSAN'S ground-breaking BladeGlider electric sportscar and retro-styled IDx coupe could both become a reality if Nissan planning chief Andy Palmer gets his way for a four-pronged assault on the excitement vehicle market.

Speaking at the New York motor show where Nissan unveiled its new Murano crossover vehicle, Mr Palmer said said he wanted to see Nissan's sportscar heroes – GT-R and 'Z' – joined by the vastly different BladeGlider and IDx to cater for a broader range of customers who wanted a fun machine but did not necessarily want or perhaps could not afford one of the existing cars.

The executive vice president of the Japanese company said the BladeGlider was important for Nissan's future as it saw electric cars as the “end game” for the car industry anyway.

“In my mind, there is a sort of ecospace there for sportscars,” he said. “You have the GT-R, to be the fast and furious sports car, you have the next generation of the Z which is more classical, you have the IDx which is very much aimed at being what sports cars were when I was a lad – the bad boy that you could afford and have fun.

“The IDx is more about live weight, connected rear-wheel drive and down-sized smaller engines, so it becomes something affordable from an insurance point of view, but the power-to-weight-ratio is very good.

“So I see that as the alternative, or mirror to, the Z.

“Then, off the map is the guilt-free fun, which is the BladeGlider. So, I see this eco-system of four sportscars that essentially define and cover the segment.” Mr Palmer said the BladeGlider – which was revealed along with the IDx at last year's Tokyo motor show – meant a revolution in sportscar design.

“When you no longer have to put the engine where God meant it to be, you can put it in the wheels,” he said.

“So your platform is essentially a battery. Then everything you do above that level is entirely at the whim of the designer, so you can create something like BladeGlider which transforms you perception of what a car should look like.

“That design of BladeGlider with the narrow front end, when you have a chance to drive that, is phenomena - it just changes your perception of how a sportscar should handle.” Mr Palmer scoffed at suggestions that such a narrow, aeronautical-inspired design could not achieve stringent crash regulations, and said the vehicle could make it into production in the same form as the concept.

“We have been making cars for 80 years, we know the crash regulations, we know the pitfalls, we know how to make it – we have already made it in prototypes, it works,” he said.

“There is no reason why it can't have a narrow track. We wouldn't put a car on the market that hasn't passed a crash test.” Mr Palmer said batter technology for electric cars was improving every year and would continue to do so, making electric cars such as the BladeGlider ever more practical and possible.

On IDx, he said the genesis of that car was to reconnect with a younger generation of buyers who had become disenchanted with the current car market.

But he said the IDx was still some years away, and had not ye entered the styling phase that usually takes two years to bring a car to market.

“But I would love to do it,” he said.

He said the next-generation Z was also some years away.

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