Nissan ZEOD RC Racecar Debuts at Le Mans | Edmunds

Nissan ZEOD RC Racecar Debuts at Le Mans

Just the Facts:
  • Zero-Emissions On Demand Racing Car (ZEOD) will race at Le Mans in 2014 in a class reserved for innovative vehicles.
  • The ZEOD is based on the original DeltaWing concept that raced at Le Mans in 2012.
  • The car will be capable of running on electricity alone.
  • Three different powertrain options are to be developed and tested.

LONDON — Nissan has revealed the ZEOD RC, a futuristic concept the company believes points to alternative future products for motorsport. The car is making its official debut at this year's Le Mans 24-hour race, but we were given exclusive access to the concept and its development team at Nissan's design studio in London.

The ZEOD, pronounced Zee-odd, is a development of the Nissan DeltaWing car that raced at Le Mans last year. It was designed by Ben Bowlby, who was also responsible for the first car, but Nissan is keen to stress that this is a separate, stand-alone project. DeltaWing 1, which grew out of a proposal for a new Indycar, was sold to American motorsport entrepreneur Don Panoz, together with the naming rights.

Panoz is hoping to sell customer versions of the DeltaWing concept, while Nissan is determined to use its successor as a test bed for future technologies. It's a multinational effort. The powertrain options will be developed by Nismo in Japan, Bowlby penned the car in the U.S., and the car will be built in the U.K. by RML, the motorsport specialists who developed the original DeltaWing.

"Racecars develop month-by-month, but the cycle for a road car is 3-4 years," says Jerry Hardcastle OBE, Nissan's vice president of vehicle design and development and the technical director of Nissan Motorsport. "We want to able to apply the lessons learned to road cars."

Nissan is developing three different "engine" options (electric, hybrid and range extender) and each will be tested over the next year. "We want to go beyond traditional hybrid technology," says Hardcastle. Every option will offer a zero-emissions mode. ZEOD RC stands for "Zero-Emissions On Demand Racing Car" and the drivers will be able to choose to run on electric power alone.

The original DeltaWing was an open-cockpit car, but the newcomer is a coupe, the aerodynamic benefits of which should help the car hit the target top speed of 300km/h (186 mph). The rest of the DeltaWing concept is familiar, with a narrow front track and an emphasis on under-floor aerodynamics.

When it runs at Le Mans next year, it will operate from Garage 56 — a special spot on the grid reserved for innovative vehicles that don't conform to the traditional regulations — but Nissan is serious about developing the car to the point where it can compete for outright victory in the future.

Edmunds says: Nissan and its DeltaWing are getting serious.

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