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Nissan BladeGlider will become handling benchmark
The Nissan BladeGlider electric sports car could become a handling benchmark for the automotive industry.
That's according to Nissan's motorsports innovation boss Ben Bowlby, who told Autocar the BladeGlider could be: "The nicest handling car you will ever drive. That is what the goal is."
Bowlby joined Nissan last December to build the Zeod RC petrol-electric hybrid sports car. That model will form the Garage 56 experimental vehicle entry in next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
His fixation with the triangular concept traces back through the Nissan-backed Deltawing that raced at Le Mans in 2012, to an Indycar he developed when working for Ganassi Racing in the USA.
Having taken the concept to the road, Nissan forecasts the BladeGlider could be in production within three years. The car would sit below the more traditional Nissan 370Z in the company's lineup, and will cost signficantly less than £30,000, despite its high-tech electric powertrain.
Bowlby says the keys to its dynamic behaviour are the narrow front track, slick aerodynamics, dual in-wheel rear electric motors and large rear tyres.
“It's about efficiency, it's about pulling a lot of G, it's about an exciting and pleasurable ride and yet being very efficient while doing that," he said. "So extreme handling and extreme fun and a whole new experience, a totally different driving experience.”
Speaking at the Tokyo motor show, Nissan's engineering chief Andy Palmer said: "I've driven the prototype, and it is unlike anything I have sampled before.
"This is the car that takes advantage of all the packaging benefits of an electric powertrain. All that weight and the set-up of the front racks means that the car is incredibly pointy, but the rear track and downforce mean that you can catch the oversteer with amazing ease.”
Dacia leads European car market growth in 2013
Dacia is one of the fastest growing car brands in Europe so far in 2013.
That's according to new data showing how many cars have been sold in the first 11 months of 2013 in the EU. The report shows that Dacia has sold over 20 per cent more cars in 2013 than it did in the same period last year.
At the same time, the brand has increased its market share from 1.9 per cent in 2012, to 2.4 per cent in 2013. The report shows that the demand for new cars in Europe has increased for the third month in a row, despite overall volumes being down on the same period in 2012.
Among the brands which have found their volumes contracting is Alfa Romeo, whose sales of 57,964 cars so far in 2013 - versus 81,879 units in the same period last year - means it has shrunk in terms of volume by 29.2 per cent in the EU.
Lancia/Chrysler and Chevrolet have also seen their volumes shrink this year, alongside PSA whose volumes are down by almost ten per cent in the EU.
Seat, Mercedes-Benz and Mazda, meanwhile, have all seen sales rise in the first eleven months of the year. Jaguar Land Rover's overall sales have risen by 9.9 per cent, while individual rises for the Jaguar brand are up by 15.6 per cent.
The Volkswagen Group remains at the top of the leaderboard, selling 2.73 million units so far this year. That's compared to 2.79 million cars sold in the previous year, meaning the group's volumes have contracted by 2.1 per cent overall. Volkswagen's individual volumes are down by over five per cent.
In total, 10.9 million cars have been sold in the EU in the first eleven months of the year, a decrease of 2.7 per cent over the 11.2 million vehicles registered in the same period in 2012. In the UK, the car market has risen by almost ten per cent, with 2.1 million new car registrations so far in 2013 versus 1.9 million vehicles registered last year.
2014 Mitsubishi ASX 2.2 Di-D 4WD Automatic first drive review
Detroit motor show 2014 dates
The Detroit motor show will take place between January 13-26 next year.
Autocar will be reporting live from the event from the 13 January, while the show will be open to the general public between 18-26 January.
Detroit will see the debut of the new Mercedes-Benz C-class, as well as the Volvo XC concept, which will reportedly give clues towards the design of the next XC90. Lexus has already teased a new F model for the show, while Audi is expected to showcase its new crossover concept, believed to be badged Q1.
Also to be shown are the new BMW M3 and Ford Mustang, alongside midly facelifted BMW X1 and Z4 models,
Autocar will be in Detroit to bring you the latest up-to-date details of the event. Check back for the latest news.
Read more Detroit motor show news.
Mini John Cooper Works concept revealed for Detroit motor show
A new Mini John Cooper Works concept will be seen for the first time at the Detroit motor show in January.
Mini has published the first details about the new concept today. The concept is based on the 2014 Mini hatchback, and sits on 18-inch alloy wheels.
While Mini has yet to confirm which engine will be used to power the JCW, it is likely to be a tuned version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine found in the Cooper S.
The new JCW Mini is both longer and wider than the outgoing model, which Mini says has improved its driving characteristics.
Larger air intakes can be seen at the front of the model, alongside LED headlights and a new front bumper and grille surround. New skirts flank either side of the car, while the rear gets a new apron and diffuser. A new sports exhaust is also fitted.
The concept car also features a rear spoiler and additional bodywork to channel air around the C-pillars.
Although Mini officially refers to this John Cooper Works version as a concept for the moment, it is very likely that a production model will be sold.
Read more Detroit motor show news.
Audi Sport's Allan McNish retires from top-line racing
Allan McNish will cease racing for Audi Sport with immediate effect.
The announcement means the 43-year-old Scottish driver will not race for the team in the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans race, which he won last year alongside Tom Kristensen and Loic Duval. The move effectively ends McNish's career in sports prototype racing.
McNish started his racing career in go-karting in 1981, before progressing into the Formula Ford 1600 Championship in 1987. In 1988, he was named Autosport Club Driver of the Year, having moved to the Formula Opel Lotus Euroseries.
McNish joined the Formula One circuit in 1991 as a test driver for McLaren, before becoming a reserve driver with Benetton for the 1993 season. He completed his first 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998, and returned two years later to place second, racing with Audi Sport.
Having joined Toyota to race in the 2002 F1 season, it was another two years before McNish returned to Le Mans with Audi, where he placed 5th. McNish placed 3rd in both the 2005 and 2006 Le Mans races, but had to retire from the 2007 event.
The 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans saw McNish finish first overall, while the 2009 and 2010 events again saw him place 3rd in both races. Having been forced to retire from the 2011 event following a collision, McNish placed 2nd in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans, but again triumphed in 2013, winning the race as part of Audi Sport Team Joest and going on to claim the World Endurance Car Championship at the end of the season.
Speaking about his decision, McNish said: "I feel the time is right for me to step back and to put the helmet on the side and to look at other opportunities.
"I've always said I wanted to stop at the right time, when it was right for me and also when I was still fast and capable to do the job. This year was a mega successful one, it ticked all of the boxes.
"There's been a lot of fun and success on the way, but now it's over to the young guys. There's a great new crop of drivers coming through. They need to get their seat time to show what they can do.
"There's many reasons why drivers decide that they want to step back. From my point of view I've stated that I want to go out when I'm still at the top. I've only been involved in racing to win, and to win is the reason why we go racing.
"There is nothing better than going out as the world champion."
Audi Motorsport boss Dr Wolfgang Ullrich said: "We appreciate and respect Allan’s decision to retire at the pinnacle of his career. At the same time, this is a parting that is particularly difficult for us. All of us are well aware of Allan’s racing successes.
“We should not forget, though, how valuable he has been in the development of our race cars, how great a team player he has always been and how he has consistently applied himself to achieve Audi’s aims far beyond motorsport with his professionalism, loyalty and commitment."