Nissan took the covers off its experimental ‘zero emissions’ racing car at Le Mans, as it gears up to break new ground by becoming the first electrically powered entrant, at the 24 Hours in 2014.
The ZEOD RC, which stands for Zero Emissions On Demand Racing Car, has been granted the ‘Garage 56’ entry for innovative racing projects, such as the Nissan-powered DeltaWing that made such an impression at last year’s race.
The Japanese giant has signed DeltaWing creator Ben Bowlby as its ‘Global Director of Innovation’ to lead the project and unveiled a prototype concept to the press and public simultaneously at a launch on Friday morning.
The team will evaluate variants on drivetrain technologies before deciding on a solution to reach its target of hitting 300kph (186mph) at the Circuit de la Sarthe, powered by electricity alone. It will be the forerunner to a full-blown Nissan LMP1 entry in 2015, featuring some of the technology developed from the project.
“One of the things that is most exciting is to be at the forefront of technology,” said Bowlby. “There has never been an electric lap recorded at Le Mans, it’s never been done before. It will be a wonderful – and nerve-wracking – experience. Innovation is always risky.”
Paul Willcox, senior vice-president of Nissan Europe’s sales and marketing, explained that the Le Mans campaign reflects the car maker’s desire to promote its place as the market leader in electrically powered vehicles. “We’ve taken a big bet in the industry and made a big investment in electric vehicles at a time when the business is sceptical,” he said. “The Nissan Leaf is the electric market leader, it is proven and we know it works. We’ve sold 65,000 of them.
“In the future electric vehicles will be a big part of a mix of technologies. We want to push the boundaries and 300kph would be a massive step for us.”
The car, which resembles the DeltaWing, is expected to run for the first time in September. It will be fitted with specially developed Michelin tyres.
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