YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Nissan Motor Co. says it is serious about building an electric car that looks nothing like any other vehicle on the world's roads -- or at least some piece of the car.
"This will be a production car," Andy Palmer, Nissan's global product planning chief, insisted as he pointed at the BladeGlider concept at an off-site reception prior to its display at this week's Tokyo Motor Show.
The BladeGlider is long and arrow-shaped, with three seats inside -- two in the rear and a single seat up front for a driver. It is clearly not intended for a couple out on a date.
The V-shaped, gull-winged concept is only 1 meter wide at its front track. It widens in the back to traditional sports car dimensions.
"People have asked how a car of that shape can handle around corners," says Ben Bowlby, a race car designer who is now Nissan's director of motorsport innovation. "We have proof right here that it works fine."
Bowlby gestures to the new Nissan ZEOD RC racing vehicle that is parked next to the BladeGlider at the Nissan reception. The ZEOD, an electric Le Mans racer that Bowlby designed, has almost the same triangular footprint as the BladeGlider.
Nissan put the ZEOD onto a Japanese speedway in October for the first time to prove its high-speed handling and power. The car is scheduled to run in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans.
But executives from Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn to the automaker's global design chief, Shiro Nakamura, say there is also a commercial street-legal potential for the ZEOD twin, the BladeGlider.
Nakamura says he has driven the BladeGlider for testing and found it "thrilling."
Bowlby says the goal is to appeal to a different type of consumer.
"It's a car designed for the driving experience," he says. "It's a driver's car."
Bowlby says that motorsports is influencing future ideas for Nissan vehicles.
"The auto industry has always been the key customer of motorsports," he says. "The use of diesel engines in passenger cars, the rearview mirror and disc brakes -- they were all proven first in racing."