Nissan Unveils 2014 LeMans Entry ZEOD RC; World’s Fastest Electric Racer (Video + Q&A)
5 Y BY ERIC LOVEDAY
“Nissan has unveiled the groundbreaking, innovative ZEOD RC – the world’s fastest electric racing car that will reach speeds of more than 300km/h (186 mph) with electric technology at the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
This is that vehicle we first teased on InsideEVs a week ago and is the one that will hit the track at the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hour as the Garage 56 entry for experimental vehicles.
What’s ZEOD RC stand for, you ask? How’s “Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car” sound? That’s how Nissan describes this mean electric machine.
Here are more descriptors used be Nissan in hyping in ZEOD RC:
- Nissan ZEOD RC will utilize the same lithium battery technology as used in the award-winning Nissan LEAF
- The Nissan ZEOD RC will achieve speeds in excess of 300km/h
- Multiple electric drivetrain technologies to be tested before racing in 2014 Le Mans 24 Hour and assessed for potential in LM P1
- Nissan again at the forefront of Zero Emission and battery technology
Nissan is mum on what exactly powers the ZEOD RC and leaves us with little to go on aside from a few quotes from the designer (and a Q&A section you’ll find further down this page) of this visually stunning machine. That designer, Ben Bowlby, says that today’s battery technology does not provide enough energy capacity to make a pure electric Le Mans prototype, but he sees the ZEOD as an essential step towards the future electrification of racecars.
Here’s what else Bowlby had to say:
“Developing a car like this provides an incredibly challenging test bed for what could be highly effective options for road cars of the future. Throughout the next twelve 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 that would be best suited to competing at the highest level of this sport.”
Check out the ZEOD RC reveal video below and then slide down the page even further for a Q&A section with Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President of Nissan.
Nissan ZEOD RC Q&A: Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President and Executive Committee member at Nissan Motor Company Limited
Q: How is the Nissan ZEOD relevant to the road car industry
A: The Nissan ZEOD RC is extraordinary because we’re creating a high-speed electric vehicle that will help refine and define the future needs of the consumer. In one of the modes under development, we’re looking at a car that will have zero emissions on demand, as the name suggests. That gives the user, and in our case the race car driver, the opportunity to run, not only in electric-only, but to recuperate energy from braking events and to re-use that energy for acceleration purposes and also to run a range with an internal combustion engine (ICE) and liquid fuel.
But this is just one of several different power train options we will run in the car over the next 12 months to evaluate the most efficient and effective option.
We hope to prove through extreme efficiency, exciting aerodynamics and tire technology, just how effective a future road car can be in a race environment that is Le Mans – the finest endurance test in the world.
Q: Could this be the future for road cars?
A: I don’t think there’s a clear road map for the road cars of the future, other than; people will remain interested in innovative transportation solutions, they will be forced to have zero emissions under certain circumstances and people will also need the freedoms that liquid fuel offers for covering long distances very rapidly.
That is why we’re using this car to test multiple options over the next 12 moths.
The car is using the most up to date, modern technology, packaged in a car that is a completely new, exciting, dynamic prospect. I think that these elements, all wrapped together, make this car extraordinary and highly relevant.
Q: Explain Nissan’s contribution to the project.
A: Nissan is an incredibly innovative company. We recognized the opportunity that Garage 56 offered and brought the DeltaWing to Le Mans. But realizing what this meant and what the future could hold, Nissan has been incredibly bold by going back with this extraordinary new car, not only with a narrow track concept and extreme low-drag dynamics, but also combining our future directions for road cars by using our battery technology. In doing so, we’ll create a car that is totally relevant to the direction Nissan is taking for our road cars. It will meet government standards for emissions in the future, or even zero emissions in the city, and it will have the performance of a car with tremendous range and power.
This is an extraordinary opportunity, seized by Nissan, to showcase to the world future technologies at the greatest race in the world.
Q: Isn’t the perception by the average man on the street that electric cars are slow and can’t go very far?
A: The wonderful thing about racing is it changes people’s perceptions of technology. Clearly, Nissan is going to Le Mans to prove a point. We will prove that a battery-electric vehicle with can perform with incredible performance.
Perhaps, the man on the street might think that a Ferrari GT is the fastest car out there, but this car, at the same track, at the same time, running on pure electric power could run laps faster than the Ferrari GT. I think that is an extraordinary statement. It tells us a lot about the coming age of electric vehicles.
Our lives are dominated by the use of electricity and it’s been a real challenge to have that electric power contained in our road cars and racecars. Nissan has been leaders in brining pure EV cars to the mainstream for consumers. This is the next step in finding that niche that gives everything and more. We’ll be testing zero emission options, sustained performance options and a combination of both.
Q: What are the other technologies you will try in the car?
A: We have a number of other ideas under development that will be looking to test in the chassis but we can’t reveal details at this point in time. The goal for the program is to ascertain which technology is going to provide us with the best option of building a LM P1 program around it. We intend to work hand-in-hand with the ACO to discuss future opportunities for the ‘electrification’ of the Le Mans rules in the future and work towards delivering appropriate technology.
Q: How does Nissan differ from other car companies in its push for innovation?
A: Nissan was the first mainstream automotive manufacturer to build a pure EV car. It speaks to our commitment for innovation and our boldness. We have challenged the world to take another look at a pure battery-electric vehicle. Nissan as a company believes in the application of technology to solve people’s transportation needs. As a company, we’re not afraid to innovate. The “new Nissan” is committed to producing products ahead of their rivals.
Q: Tell us why Nissan wants to open the curtains and let the world witness the development of this car over the next 12 months?
A: The Garage 56 opportunity means you’re not really racing against anybody. Well, I say that, but we are in a way, because Nissan wants to show ourselves to be high performing on track. But, we aren’t competing in the same rules framework as everyone else. So, this is a wonderful opportunity to show the fans what it is we’re doing. We have nothing to hide. This is the technology options we’re bringing to the race track and we can give them the opportunity to understand why we did things, what the parts look like and really invite them to see the heart of this ZEOD race car. I think that’s one of the charming things about Garage 56: It’s a showcase of technology and innovation.
Q: Is there a “moon race” of sorts happening with new racing technology?
A: One of the things that you realize when everyone around you has the same idea as you is that you’re probably onto something and right now we’re seeing innovation and electrification appearing left, right and center. We have Formula E kicking off, we see Paul Drayson producing an electric-powered speed challenger and obviously Nissan taking this car to Le Mans in 2014. It tells us we’re of our time and this is what a lot of people are looking at.
This “space race,” if you like, is only going to add to excitement and the interest for the fans and create headlines and change people’s perception of electric technology.