Nissan to Return to LeMans in 2014 With Electric Technology


Nissan’s ultra-radical DeltaWing racer was far from successful on the track, but in 2014, Nissan will return to the 24 Hours of LeMans with an experimental vehicle packed with electric technology.

This announcement was made Monday evening by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn during the opening of NISMO’s headquarters in Yokohama, Japan.

As Ghosn stated:

“We will return to Le Mans with a vehicle that will act as a high-speed test bed in the harshest of environments for both our road car and race car electric vehicle technology.”

No additional details of Nissan’s experimental project, which will incorporate “electric vehicle technology,” have been revealed.  However, Nissan will return to Garage 56 at LeMans in 2014.  Garage 56 is outside the general classification of vehicles in LeMans and is unrestricted, which means the sky is the limit.

Here’s what Darren Cox, Nissan’s general manager in Europe, had to say of the automaker’s return to LeMans and Garage 56:

The Nissan R390 GT1 car that ran to third overall in the 1998 Le Mans 24 Hours.

The Nissan R390 GT1 car that ran to third overall in the 1998 Le Mans 24 Hours.

“We say we’re about innovation and excitement.  If we weren’t trying to get Garage 56 every year, we wouldn’t be innovative.   That particular entry is put in place for the most innovative car that year. That’s what we’re all about. We’re not about using it once and walking away from it. We really want to utilize that opportunity to show our innovation.  We’re in uncharted territory here.  We don’t know how good this technology is going to be. We’re obviously doing a huge amount with simulation at the moment. We think we will be pretty accurate when we actually get there in terms of the simulation. But we need to run these cars and need to work out how it all works.  With Garage 56 and the open regulations, you’re not restricted. You can do different things.  We’re already talking about different strategies and how you use the electric technology. It’s really interesting.   Yes, there’ll be the headline that we’ll be doing a lap of Le Mans [in ‘x amount of time’] with an electric car. But actually, there is a real interest in terms of the strategy of how you use the electric technology.”

Eventually, Nissan would like to returns to LeMans with its “electric vehicle technology” included within the regulations of the LMP1 (LeMans Prototype) class.  LMP1 is within LeMans regulations and includes the fastest closed-wheel racing cars used on the circuit today.  Garage 56 entrants are considered experimental, but LMP1 is considered the face of LeMans, the class where competition is extreme and diesel-fueled Audis tend to dominate.

This year, a hydrogen-electric racer from Green GT will occupy Garage 56 at LeMans.  Next year, it’s Nissan electrified racer that will  occupy the spot.

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3 Comments on "Nissan to Return to LeMans in 2014 With Electric Technology"

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Actually hybrids places 1st and 2nd in last year’s LeMans 24 hour endurance race. Audis’ hybrids were diesel electric and were rivaled by Toyota’s gas electric hybrids in LMP1. Some feel this was overshadowed by all the hype around Nissan’s DeltaWing, which was targeted at saving gas with an ultralight design using less ICE displacement. Toyota’s hybrid attempt was promising, giving Audi a run for it’s money – one Toyota was out with mechanical failure but the other was charging hard in the lead and was taken out in a crash. So electric is already showing itself in the top tier of LeMans and hopefully will be a big part of many racing series moving forward. Toyota rushed it’s revolutionary hybrid LMP1 into competetion to boost morale to it’s employees and to Japan as a whole after the devastation and losses the company and country experienced from it’s megaquake and tsunami in 2011. Thus, many said they did not have enough time for proper R&D. Toyota uses a supercapacitor to store energy collected under braking and uses two electric motors, one on the front axle the other at the rear. FIA regulations only allow one motor to be used at… Read more »

I wanted to emphasize – the article says “Nissan’s DeltaWing racer was
far from successful on the track”. I would disagree with that
assessment completely. This conclusion would only be true if
success was metered in wins and losses. The DeltaWing
as proof-of-cocept was a glorious success. It proved that clever
engineering and design could overcome the barriers of weight
and physics. Seriously, nothing has been as revolutionary in
overall race car design since Jim Hall first started experimenting
with ground effects and then placed a large wing on the back
of a car for downforce.

The Delta didn’t win on the track because it was booted off
the track by opponent’s driving error. This could be seen as
a result of the Nissan being shaped unlike any other racer ever-
broad in the rear with a needle nose. Other drivers used to
cutting and slicing past another car to gain position simply
misjudged the Nissan’s position to theirs and drove it
off the road.

The Delta would be a grand success if it had it’s own racing
series where all the cars looked like it does and drivers
were familiar with the space they had to manuever in
passing, especially in turns.

The Delta series would definately be fast while using
a whole lot less gas!