Automobile company Nissan has unveiled two revolutionary new prototype zero emission vehicles - the world’s first Solid Oxide Fuel-Cell (SOFC) vehicle and the futuristic BladeGlider.
The SOFC runs on bio-ethanol electric power and forms part of Nissan’s ongoing commitment to the development of zero emission vehicles while the BladeGlider combines zero-emissions with high-performance in a revolutionary sports car design. Nissan already sells the world’s highest-volume zero-emission car, the LEAF, and is pioneering Intelligent Mobility systems that will be deployed in a range of vehicles over coming years.
The BladeGlider has been developed from concept cars first shown at the Tokyo Auto Show in 2013. BladeGlider Prototype vehicles have now arrived in Brazil to symbolize future technologies that will combine Intelligent Mobility, environmentally friendly impact and sports-car driving capabilities.
The e-Bio Fuel-Cell prototype vehicle runs on 100-percent ethanol to charge a 24kWh battery, enabling a cruising range of more than 600 kilometres. Nissan will conduct further field tests on public roads in Brazil using the prototype. Research and development of the e-Bio Fuel-Cell was announced by Nissan in June in Yokohama. The powertrain is clean, highly efficient, easy to supply, and it runs on 100-percent ethanol or ethanol-blended water. Its carbon-neutral emissions are as clean as the atmosphere, which will be the part of natural carbon cycle. Also, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers the brisk acceleration and silent driving of an EV, along with its low-running costs, while boasting the driving range of a gasoline-engine vehicle.
“The e-Bio Fuel-Cell offers eco-friendly transportation and creates opportunities for regional energy production…all the while supporting the existing infrastructure” said Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn, at the launch of the SOFC in Brazil. “In the future, the e-Bio Fuel-Cell will become even more user-friendly. Ethanol-blended water is easier and safer to handle than most other fuels. Without the need to create new infrastructure, it has great potential to drive market growth.”
Bio-ethanol fuels are mainly sourced from sugarcane and corn. These fuels are widely available in countries in North and South America, which feature widely established infrastructure. Due to the easy availability of ethanol and low combustibility of ethanol-blended water, the system is not heavily dependent or restricted by the existing charging infrastructure, making it easy to introduce to the market. In the future, people may only need to stop by small retail stores to buy fuel off the shelf.
The e-Bio Fuel-Cell will realize the concept of "Nissan Intelligent Power," promoting greater efficiency and electrification of cars and the joys of driving alongside battery EVs, such as the Nissan LEAF, Nissan e-NV200, and e-Power, which is equipped with an engine housing an exclusive large-capacity motor and power generator.
With the Nissan Bladeglider, Nissan’s vision was for an agile, efficient EV that would provide new dimensions of driving fun and excitement – a car that would “glide,” thanks to the near-silent performance of its electric powertrain and aerodynamic shape.
After two years of work on design, engineering and development, Nissan BladeGlider has evolved further into an exciting, real-life study into the potential of advanced EV performance. The vehicle epitomises Intelligent Mobility, the company’s philosophy to make its cars more exciting by redefining how they are driven, powered and integrated into society.
The demonstration models feature an advanced chassis configuration with a narrow front track and wider rear track for optimum aerodynamic efficiency and handling stability.
High-waisted, rear-hinged dihedral doors provide a dramatic entry and exit to the cabin. The open roof of Nissan BladeGlider is reinforced with an integrated roll-over protection structure, providing the exhilaration of an open-topped race car with the safety of a coupe.
Wheel-mounted controls for Nissan BladeGlider’s systems feed into an advanced display showing speed, state of battery charge, regeneration mode and torque map. Flanking the central display are two screens, with the images of rear-view cameras mounted just behind the front wheels. An alternative to door-mounted mirrors, this dual screen design improves the aerodynamic efficiency of Nissan BladeGlider. The driver sits in arrowhead formation slightly in front of two passengers, who enjoy extended legroom. The view for all occupants is panoramic thanks to the seamless cockpit windscreen.
Power is 100 percent electric, with exceptional powertrain performance delivered by Nissan’s technical partner for the Nissan BladeGlider project, UK-based Williams Advanced Engineering, which recorded a maximum speed in excess of 190km/h with the demonstration models, and 0-100km/h in less than five seconds. The rear wheels’ drive is provided by two 130 kW electric motors – one for each wheel.
The system features torque vectoring, controlling the torque delivered to the driven wheels, improving the handling even further. With torque vectoring, if the car starts to understeer, it automatically sends more torque to the outside wheel to restore the handling balance.
Designed to add to the driving experience rather than govern it, the torque vectoring system has three settings: off, agile and drift mode.
Power is supplied by a high performance, five module lithium-ion 220kW battery. Bespoke cooling systems have been developed for both the battery and the motors.
The interior of the Nissan BladeGlider reflects the vehicles’ sporting intentions, with four point safety harnesses for each occupant. The seats offer exceptional support to sides and legs of the driver and passengers. The seats are trimmed in a highly tactile blend of fabric and epoxy resin coating, resulting in a tough and grippy material that has the effect of comfortably securing occupants in place.
There are two color trims – Cyber Green and Stealth Orange. These colors are used for the upper portions of the seat back and framed with a silver reflective material to create an eye-catching, sporty look. The base of the seats is in black, patterned material, with a band of green and orange trim framing the cushion.
Two Nissan BladeGliders will be presented in Rio de Janeiro in August. One will be on static display in Rio while the second will be offering dynamic rides to media and VIPs.
Nissan is concentrating on the incorporation of systems into vehicles that enable the extraction of electric power from various fuels, while addressing the infrastructure issues tied to energy supply in every region of the world.