The Nissan ZEOD RC (Zero Emissions On-Demand Racing Car) prototype is part technology demo and part publicity stunt for the Japanese automaker. The car uses the same lithium-ion batteries as the Nissan Leaf electric car, and Nissan is touting the fact that race-car technology often finds its way to cars driven on the street.
The goals include racing in the 2014 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, hitting 300+ kilometers/hr (186 miles/hr) speeds, to serve as the prototype for Nissan’s reentry into the top rung of the LM P1 class in the World Endurance Cup, to demonstrate the power of electrified vehicles, and bring better technology to electric road cars.
What Nissan unveiled on Friday is a prototype vehicle, and an overview description of the powertrain they’ll use in the 2014 race. It’s based on the DeltaWing race car Nissan entered in the 2012 race at Le Mans. The designer of that car, Ben Bowlby, is in charge of the new project and now carries the title of Director of Motorsport Innovation. The DeltaWing excelled at reducing aerodynamic drag and weight.
Nissan said it will test a variety of types and combinations of electric motors and gasoline engines in the ZEOD RC before the car hits the LeMans race track in 2014. The company was invited to the 2014 race under LeMans’ “Garage 56” classification, reserved for one technologically innovative vehicle to take part in the annual 24-hour competition.
Nissan sees itself as the leader in electric vehicles globally and is positioning the ZEOD RC as part of that push into electric vehicles. They’re bringing the technology developed for the Leaf, upscaling it to the needs of a 300+ km/hr race car, to test it in the extreme conditions of endurance racing.
Just as previous generations of automotive technology were birthed at the race track, Nissan plans to then bring technology developed for the ZEOD RC back to road cars. It isn’t a one-off project either, Nissan’s future participation in the World Endurance Cup LM P1 class will continue to use electrified drive train technology developed from the ZEOD RC.
The exact behavior of the drive train is still up in the air. Nissan will be testing a variety of options at tracks around the world over the next year.