Nissan's electric ZEOD RC will compete during 24 Hours of Le Mans
Nissan's focus on electric-vehicle mastery is taking another step towards reality after the company announced it would be returning to Le Mans with its ZEOD RC.
ZEOD stands for Zero Emissions On Demand and this latest effort is more a hybrid than a pure electric car. It uses lithium-ion battery packs similar to those used in the production Leaf, and - we're guessing here - the same Nissan Juke-sourced 1.6-litre turbocharged four-cylinder that powered the original. The car is being pitched as being able to complete a lap of the Le Mans circuit on electric power alone, which is about 12 kilometres, and can be recharged using regenerative braking. No mention on whether the gas engine can also act as a generator, which would make logical sense since regen braking alone would take several laps to bring the batteries back to a reasonable charge.
Nissan's hoping to make a return back to the top rungs of sportscar racing, but the future for Le Mans' P1 class is for alternative fuels and hybridiziation. Audi, Toyota and - for next season - Porsche all have their own takes on how to accomplish that, so this is good first-hand research to give Nissan a better shot faster. You can check out videos of the ZEOD RC's development and shakedown via their page here.
If the ZEOD RC looks familiar, it's because it's based on the arrowhead shape that debuted with the Deltawing racer at Le Mans a couple years ago. That's no surprise given that Nissan's current Director of Motorsport Innovation is Ben Bowlby, the affable Brit that penned the original design. The current Deltawing project was taken over by Elan Technologies in Georgia where the car was given a roof, and a turbocharged Mazda engine is running in place of the original Nissan unit. Bowlby has nothing to do with it.
Fans might get a tad confused given that these two cars share so much in common, but are being developed simultaneously by two different organizations. However, in some ways that was how big-dollar sportscar racing used to be during the 'glory years'. No two Porsche 917s or 956s were identical since the individual teams would chop, cut and modify theirs to suit their own strategies...
This is Nissan's second time in three years that it's been the "Garage 56" selection, which always goes to experimental, green racing programs that otherwise wouldn't fit in the rules.