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Is it a bird? No, Nissan's electric 'Glider

2013-11-08 10:30

COOL ELECTRIC: Nissan will unveil its sporty electric concept vehicle at the 2013 Tokyo auto show in November 2013. Image: AFP

TOKYO, Japan - Nissan will unveil a sporty concept electric vehicle at the 2013 Tokyo auto show as it presses on with its bid to tap the burgeoning "green car" market. It's called the BladeGlider.

The show will open on November 20 and run until December 1 with 177 exhibitors, among them Toyota, Nissan, BMW, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and Peugeot.

BladeGlider image gallery

The company, which has been selling its Leaf electric vehicle since late 2010 and which has been selling the car in South Africa since its launch at the 2013 Johannesburg International Motor Show in October 2013, said it hoped its BladeGlider would help it reach a market of male drivers who still want performance and styling in an environmentally friendly car - a major hurdle to widespread commercial sales.


The car to be unveiled at the biennial Tokyo exhibition has an aerodynamic design that widens from the front to back with space for a driver in the middle and two passengers in the rear.

The car is made with light carbon fibres and puts the vehicle's centre of mass on the rear tyres to allow for tighter turns, Nissan said, and added: "The driver's seat has been positioned in the middle of the vehicle to give a sense of a pilot in an airborne glider."

The concept vehicle is aimed squarely at moving into a higher-end electric vehicle market already tapped with some success by US-based Tesla, three of whose cars have *burst into flames in recent weeks.

Toyota said it also planned to unveil its latest fuel-cell concept car at the Toyko show with an expected commercial roll out two years away.

The world's major automakers have been working on various green vehicles, from battery cars to zero-emissions fuel-cell models, for a market that still remains tiny. However demand for lower-emission vehicles is forecast to grow, with further technological advances in the field seen as crucial due to toughening emissions standards.

Range, performance, refuelling/recharging infrastructure and relatively high prices have proved major hurdles to widespread sales of green vehicles.

Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn has been a major promoter of battery cars and vowed to press on despite lacklustre demand. The company has invested about the equivalent of R55.4-billion in electric-car development in partnership with Renault, which owns more than 40% of Nissan.

The partnership has also announced an electric-car tie-up with Mitsubishi.

Nissan says it has sold more than 80 000 Leaf electric vehicles globally since its roll-out in 2011. A tiny percentage of the 4.9-million cars it sold worldwide in its previous fiscal year but it will also be showing off its second commercial electric vehicle, the e-NV200 minivan, which it unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show in September 2013.

*Reports coming from the US and published in the Detroit News indicated that a third Tesla S had burned after an accident, resulting in another "sharp fall" in the company’s share price on Thursday (Nov 7 2013)..

Tesla Motors' stock fell sharply Thursday morning after the company confirmed a third fire in a Model S electric vehicle in six weeks.

Spokeswoman Liz Jarvis-Shean told the DetNews: "We have been in contact with the driver, who was not injured and believes the car saved his life. Our team is on its way to Tennessee to learn more about what happened.

“We will provide more information when we're able to do so.”

The other two fires were in Washington and Mexico.

The most recent fire, the DetNews reported, came to light after images were posted on a website but Tesla claims the fires were caused by the crashes and not by a fault in the cars. Read about it here.
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