Nissan’s ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car), which reaches speeds of more than 300km/h with electric technology, will make its race debut at the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hour.
The world global leader in electric vehicles for the road, Nissan will trial variants of new electric drive train technologies as part of its intended future return to LM P1 competition to challenge for overall victory at the world’s most prestigious endurance race.
Nissan’s invitation from the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to compete in the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours was announced by Nissan chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn in Japan in February 2013.
The ZEOD will compete under the ACO’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 U.S., 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.
While the car will not race until the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours, Nissan has kicked off a unique aspect of the program—race fans getting the chance to unveil the car in the public area of the Circuit de la Sarthe. Nissan intends to draw back the curtain for fans across the globe to provide continued updates via its international partnership with YouTube and its NISMO.TV channel.
“Nissan has become a global leader in the development of zero emission automotive technology, and the Nissan ZEOD RC will allow us to further develop those capabilities using the toughest endurance race in the world as a mobile test bed to test the potential of our planned LM P1 power train,” said Andy Palmer, executive vice president and executive committee member at Nissan Motor Company Limited.
The Nissan ZEOD RC 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.
Launched in 2010, the Nissan LEAF all-electric car won the 2010 Green Car Vision Award; the 2011 European Car of the Year; 2011 World Car of the Year; and the 2011–2012 Car of the Year Japan.
Nissan launched the Nissan LEAF RC in 2011—a racecar prototype powered by the same 107-horsepower electric motor that is used in the road car.
While current battery technology does not provide the energy storage capacity to race a solely electric Le Mans prototype, Nissan ZEOD RC designer Ben Bowlby believes the development of the car will be an important step in the “electrification” of the racecars of the future.
“Developing a car like this provides an incredibly challenging test bed for what could be highly effective options for road cars of the future,” said Bowlby. “Throughout the next 12 months we will be testing multiple drive train options in an extensive test program.”
Nissan will partner with French tire manufacturer Michelin to produce tires for the new prototype.
Nissan previously joined forces with Michelin on the Nissan DeltaWing program.
The Clermont-Ferrand-based manufacturer has an enviable record at the Le Mans 24 Hour, winning the past 15 consecutive races overall.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will make its testing debut later this summer. Nissan’s assault on the 2013 Le Mans 24 Hour will again target victory in the P2 class with 15 of the 22 entries powered by Nissan.
In the opening rounds of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship, Nissan has dominated, taking victory at Silverstone and Spa-Francorchamps.