Le Mans is a race full of fast and somewhat crazy looking cars – many are not your average road car, they are built as pure race cars and at one end of pit row sits garage number 56 – reserved for experimental vehicles. Today, Nissan unveiled the car they will put in that garage for the 2014 Le Mans 24 hour race in twelve months from now.
Following on from the Delta-wing design concept car which has raced for Nissan for the last year or so, Nissan will combine that design concept with the electric vehicle technology from its 100% electric road-car the Leaf to build the ZEOD Race Car.
The talk from Nissan is all about electric, and clearly setting some stunning new records for electric vehicles. If it’s successful in making it to the grid the ZEOD RC will set the fastest electric-powered lap of Le Mans, probably a top speed record for an electric car and more.
However, it won’t run the whole race in electric mode. Battery technology today simply wouldn’t allow it. You’d probably need a battery the size of a B-Double truck to last 24 hours at high-speed – and that weight and size might just effect the aerodynamics a bit.
So, the ZEOD will be just that – Zero emissions (Electric mode) “on demand”. Nissan aren’t saying just yet exactly what combination of powertrains will finally take the race track – that’s to be tested over the year ahead, but you can be sure there will be a gas guzzling powerhouse tucked into this sleek baby ready to get the ZEOD through the race, with the option to switch to electric only mode on the fly.
You might argue the presence of a ‘liquid fuel’ engine diminishes the environmental credibility of the ZEOD but in reality the short-range of the Leaf electric car is proof that there might not be a big demand for 100% electric vehicles, instead Nissan foresees a world where there will be a requirement for Zero emission running (such as in dense city areas) so there is a clear need to test the combination.
Whatever your take on all that, this is one sexy race car, and the idea of it shooting off the line under electric power for a lap of Le Mans is pretty exciting.