Nissan ZEOD RC Le Mans Entry Hits Another Milestone | Edmunds

Nissan ZEOD RC Le Mans Entry Hits Another Milestone

Just the Facts:
  • The completed Nissan ZEOD RC, a hybrid sports prototype, is set to go on display in Japan this weekend.
  • The car will compete as an experimental entry in next year's 24 Hours of Le Mans.
  • The Nissan creation uses a body shape similar to the DeltaWing that raced at Le Mans in 2012.

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Nissan, which powered the innovative DeltaWing racecar in its 2012 debut at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, will bring a lookalike triangular-shaped vehicle to next year's Le Mans classic with a hybrid powertrain which gives it its name — ZEOD RC, or Zero Emissions on Demand Race Car.

A refined version of the car that was on display at Le Mans this year was revealed Thursday at Nismo (Nissan Motorsports) headquarters. It will be on display at this weekend's 6 Hours of Fuji, an FIA World Endurance Championship event at Fuji Speedway in Oyama, Japan. To pump up excitement for the ZEOD RC, Nissan also released videos of the car being built and in action.

The vehicle, Nissan says, will be the first to make a complete lap of the 8.5-mile Circuit de la Sarthe in France, site of the Le Mans race, on electric power. The car will be capable of a top speed of 185 mph.

It will also have an unspecified "small lightweight internal combustion engine" as an alternative power source. The DeltaWing utilized a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine in its 2012 appearance at Le Mans, and despite being underpowered, the experimental prototype was quicker than the GT racing equipment.

Designer Ben Bowlby's premise that the fighter jet shape and light weight of the DeltaWing design would make the car competitive with much less horsepower was proven correct. The DeltaWing ran strong at Le Mans until it was punted off course and damaged too severely to continue in the sixth hour of the race.

Bowlby, now director of motorsport innovation for Nissan, is the designer of the ZEOD RC, a closed-cockpit machine with the narrow front and wide rear track pioneered in the DeltaWing. The new car was unveiled by Nismo President Shoichi Miyatani, Nissan Global Motorsport Director Darren Cox and Bowlby.

Bowlby described the evolution of the ZEOD since February as a "moon race" designed to change the face of zero-emissions racing.

The car was produced in 33 weeks after Nissan Chairman Carlos Ghosn announced in February the goal of returning to Le Mans with an electric-powered vehicle. It features a revised version of the prototype show car, with styling and aerodynamic changes and new cooling inlets.

Like the DeltaWing of 2012, the ZEOD RC will compete at Le Mans in 2014 by invitation of the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, sanctioning body of the historic race, in the special classification of experimental vehicle. It will occupy "Garage 56," the designation of the working space for crews of revolutionary vehicles that earn an invitation to the race that normally features a field of 55 prototype and GT racecars.

"The ZEOD RC utilizes our technology gained through the development of the Nissan Leaf Nismo RC, the first EV racer based on the mass-production zero-emissions vehicle," 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."

Edmunds says: The DeltaWing was a hit in its brief appearance at Le Mans in 2012. The ZEOD RC takes that concept to the next level with hybrid power.

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