Nissan unveils electric Le Mans racer 21 | 06 | 2013

    NISSAN TODAY UNVEILED what it believes will form part of the next generation of race cars (see more official photos of Nissan's new electric Le Mans racer). The Japanese manufacturer lifted the wraps from its new experimental electric racer on the eve of this year's 90th anniversary running of the world's most famous endurance race.

    The new electric-powered ZEOD RC DeltaWing which will race at next year's Le Mans 24-Hours — designed by DeltaWing creator Ben Bowlby — will use the same lithium battery technology as the Leaf road car and will take the 'Garage 56' slot for experimental vehicles in 2014.

    Nissan plans to use the car, which is not fully-electric and will run on Michelin tyres, as a test bed for several new technologies that could be incorporated into an LMP1 machine in the future.

    "The ZEOD RC program is designed to develop multiple technologies to evaluate how they could be used for a future LMP1 class return of Nissan at the Le Mans 24 Hours," said Nissan executive vice-president Andy Palmer.

    "There are multiple options we are investigating.

    "A zero-emission on-demand option where the driver can switch between electric and petrol-powered drive is a future direction for road cars, so that will be tested in addition to pure electric power and other new technologies that we still have under development.

    "As no other manufacturer is using electric battery technology in endurance racing today, Nissan is innovating again.

    Scot Allan McNish Audi starts from pole at Le Mans 2013

    "This will provide us with significant amounts of data and information to evaluate potential powertrains for future sportscar programmes and allow us to continue as the leader in zero-emissions technology on the road.

    "The Nissan ZEOD RC is a natural progression that follows on from the development of the Nissan Leaf road car and the Leaf RC race car prototype. The technologies developed through the ZEOD RC program will form part of future innovations for Nissan road cars.

    "Nissan is already a global leader in the sale of all-electric cars and we're eagerly awaiting the opportunity to showcase the lessons learnt with the development of battery technology in the world's oldest, toughest and most high profile endurance race."

    The car is due to begin testing later this summer.

    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," he explained at the French track today. "Throughout the next 12 months we will be testing multiple drive train options in an extensive test program.

    "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 (French motorsport body) 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.

    "A large part of our work in the coming months is to discuss with the ACO future opportunities for the ‘electrification' of the Le Mans rules in the future and work towards delivering appropriate technology.

    "Garage 56 is a bold move by the ACO to showcase Innovation and allow testing of untried components and systems for future competition use. To this end they are the most forward-thinking promoter in motorsport today." stocks a comprehensive range of Michelin tyres, in addition to those from all the other leading tyre manufacturers, all at the most competitive prices. Plus we can arrange for you to have your car's new tyres fitted at a time and location best-suited to you.

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    Jim McGill


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