Nissan are one of the biggest champions of electric cars. The Nissan LEAF is one of the few off-the-shelf electric cars you can buy today, and it was one of the very first electric powered vehicles to be offered by a major manufacturer. Nissan also have some fairly radical ideas when it comes to racing cars too. As evidenced by their accident-prone Deltawing race car. So it was only a matter of time before the company decided to fuse one of their advanced electric drivetrains with the Deltawing’s peculiar chassis.
Called the Nissan ZEOD RC, the prototype vehicle is to be used as a testbed for new electric drivetrains. And where better to trial the latest technologies than in the grueling Le Mans 24 Hour race. Nissan won’t be campaigning the car this year, instead they aim to make the grid in 2014. The ZEOD RC will race in the LM P1 class. The car will compete under the Automobile Club de l’Ouest’s ‘Garage 56’ entry – an additional spot on the grid for vehicles that showcase new and innovative technology.
Run as a Nissan / Nismo full factory international program with input from Japan, Europe and the US, the Nissan ZEOD RC design team is headed by Ben Bowlby who has been newly-appointed as Nissan’s Director of Motorsport Innovation and previously worked on the Nissan DeltaWing program in 2012.
Nissan hasn’t published any accelaration figures for the ZEOD RC, however they have said its top speed is in excess of 186 mph (300 km/h).
Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President and Executive Committee member at Nissan Motor Company Limited said of the car: “The Nissan ZEOD RC is a natural progression that follows on from the development of the Nissan Leaf road car and the Leaf RC race car prototype. The technologies developed through the ZEOD RC program will form part of future innovations for Nissan road cars.
“Nissan is already a global leader in the sale of all-electric cars and we’re eagerly awaiting the opportunity to showcase the lessons learnt with the development of battery technology in the world’s oldest, toughest and most high profile endurance race.
“The ZEOD RC program is designed to develop multiple technologies to evaluate how they could be used for a future LM P1 class return of Nissan at the Le Mans 24 Hour. There are multiple options we are investigating. A Zero Emission on Demand option where the driver can switch between electric and petrol-powered drive is a future direction for road cars, so that will be tested in addition to pure electric power and other new technologies that we still have under development.
“As no other manufacturer is using electric battery technology in endurance racing today, Nissan is innovating again and this will provide us with significant amounts of data and information to evaluate potential powertrains for future sportscar programs and allow us to continue as the leader in Zero Emissions technology on the road.”
And look. It farts lighting too.