Nissan, in collaboration with its performance arm Nismo, has been working on Nissan’s ZEOD RC electric race car for the past 8 months, and recently the car was officially unveiled at Nismo’s headquarters in Yokohama. The on Demand racer has gone from zero to ZEOD in a timescale of 33 weeks and all this development began just after Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn announced Nissan’s intention of returning to the Le Mans 24 hours.
Automobile Club de l’Ouest has invited Nissan to participate in Le Mans 24 Hours next year and has offered the ZEOD RC the “Garage 56” entry that is reserved only for vehicles showcasing new and innovative race technology. Interestingly, the ZEOD RC that will race at the 24 Hours Le Mans can treated an electric test mule which will eventually lead to next generation electric vehicles based on future LM P1 program. The car was first showcased at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, but the recently unveiled ZEOD RC is an upgraded version of the former and features revamped styling, new cooling inlets and aerodynamic updates.
The Nissan ZEOD RC was uncovered by Nismo President, Shoichi Miyatani; Nissan Global Motorsport Director, Darren Cox; and Nissan Director of Motorsport Innovation, Ben Bowlby. “The ZEOD RC utilises our technology gained through the development of the Nissan LEAF Nismo RC, the first EV racer based on the mass production zero emission vehicle,” Shoichi Miyatani said. “The LEAF RC’s energy management and efficient energy recovery system that is suitable for racing are just examples. We believe these technologies serve as important steps for using EV for motor sports.”
The powertrain of the car comprises of both electric power and a small lightweight turbocharged engine, complemented by the same battery technology found on Nissan LEAF – recharging the battery whenever brakes are applied (regenerative braking). With majority of the power coming from the electric part of the powertrain, Nissan ZEOD RC will become the first car to lap the entire 8.5-mile circuit of Le Mans on pure electric power. It will be able to attain top speeds in excess of 300 km/h and lap the circuit faster than an LM GTE car.
At the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship weekend, fans will get the chance to see the Nissan ZEOD RC in the Fuji paddock. “This weekend is an important milestone in the journey to Le Mans for the Nissan ZEOD RC,” Darren Cox said. “Our goal for the program is to draw back the curtain for the fans to see the innovative technology that Nissan is developing. 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.”
“Our thanks go to the Automobile Club de l’Ouest and the FIA WEC for not only inviting us to compete at Le Mans next year, but also for the opportunity to showcase the car here in Japan. We’re going to let Michael Krumm take a look at the car for the first time and he will join Lucas Ordóñez in a test driver role in helping develop the car. His experience in winning Super GT and FIA GT1 World Championships for Nissan will be a very valuable asset to the program. Michael is also a Nissan LEAF owner and a passionate believer in the future of electric vehicles for the road.”
Nissan has proved itself as immensely successful in making electric vehicles, the best example being the Nissan LEAF with more than 80,000 units sold since its launch. With the ZEOD RC, Nissan plans to go a step further and it is just a matter of time that we will see how it performs at the 2014 Le Mans.