The Nissan ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car) will make its race debut at next year’s Le Mans 24 Hour.
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. The car 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 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 will partner with French tyre manufacturer Michelin to produce tyres 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.
While the car will not race until next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, Nissan today 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.
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.
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“Developing a car like this provides an incredibly challenging test bed for what could be highly-effective options for road cars of the future. Throughout the next twelve months we will be testing multiple drive train options in an extensive test program,” Bowlby said.
“We have many options to consider and test. The test program is part of a longer term goal of developing a system and a set of rules for this type of technology in partnership with the ACO that would be best suited to competing at the highest level of this sport.”
“Nissan is a leader in electric vehicle technology for the road, now we want to take those lessons learnt and utilise that knowledge base in the development of the new race car.
“Our design team on the Nissan ZEOD RC program has concentrated heavily on packaging and aerodynamic efficiency that will not only provide extreme performance but high levels of energy efficiency – the goal for all global automakers.”