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Nissan zero emissions racer heads to Le Mans

ZEOD RC electric prototype unveiled at Nismo HQ set to race at Le Mans 24 Hour


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21 Oct 2013

NISSAN has ripped the covers off its ZEOD RC petrol-electric racer, which will debut at next year’s Le Mans 24 Hour as the first vehicle to complete a lap of the circuit solely on electric power.

The ‘Zero Emissions on Demand’ (ZEOD) racer was unveiled at the headquarters of Nissan’s performance arm Nismo last week after a 33 week gestation period.

In February this year, Nissan chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn announced his desire for the Japanese car-maker to return to the Le Mans 24 Hour in an electric-powered vehicle.

The ZEOD RC will race at Le Mans after being invited by Automobile Club de l’ Ouest to occupy the ‘Garage 56’ entry for new vehicles that preview innovative technology.

Nissan unveiled an initial prototype at the Le Mans 24 Hour earlier this year and the ZEOD RC marks an evolution of that design, with revamped styling, changes to the aerodynamics and new cooling inlets. The original prototype is based on the Batmobile-esque DeltaWing racer that Nissan revealed in March last year.

Power comes from an electric motor combined with a turbocharged petrol engine and Nissan says the ZEOD RC will reach speeds in excess of 300km/h. It will also be the first race car to complete a lap of the 13.6km Le Mans circuit on purely electric power.

The racer’s battery is recharged through regenerative braking which is the same technology used in the Japanese car-maker’s Leaf EV, and the driver will be easily able to switch between electric power and petrol power.

Nissan said in a statement that the engineering team used technology gained while developing the Nismo Leaf RC EV racer that was unveiled at the New York motor show in 2011.

Nissan global motorsport director Darren Cox confirmed the ZEOD RC would be on display in the Fuji paddock throughout the course of the FIA World Endurance Championship weekend in Japan this month.

“Our goal for the program is to draw back the curtain for the fans to see the innovative technology that Nissan is developing,” he said.

“We could not think of a better place than the Fuji round of the World Endurance Championship for the actual ZEOD RC to appear in public for the first time.

“We have interrupted our intense testing in the UK to fly the car to Japan for this display for the Japanese fans.” Nissan confirmed that further development of the ZEOD RC will be carried out by German race driver Michael Krumm and Spaniard Lucas Ordóñez.

Nissan director of motorsport innovation Ben Bowlby said the ZEOD RC will use “never before seen” technology at Le Mans that could end up in Nissan’s future road-going production cars.

“To see the car go down the Mulsanne Straight at 300km/h in virtual silence will be very unique. Developing the battery technology to incorporate this into a Le Mans prototype is an enormous challenge, but the lessons learned will not only be very beneficial for the future LM P1 program, but also we can use this information to assist in the development of future versions of the Nissan Leaf and other electric vehicles for the road.”

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