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Nissan ZEOD RC electric racer to race at Le Mans in 2014

By Bob Nagy on June 22, 2013 6:35 AM
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On the eve of this year's annual 24 Hour enduro event at Le Mans, Nissan has taken the wraps off a radical electric-powered prototype racer it plans to enter there in 2014. While visually similar to the DeltaWing that took part in the 2012 competition, the new Nissan ZEOD RC shares no common parts with that vehicle. However, like the DeltaWing, it will run in an exhibition-only capacity as part of the ongoing "Garage 56" program the French organizers created to encourage new types of innovation with potential applications for both racing and regular production models. While touting that the ZEOD RC's projected 186+ mph top speed will make it "the world's fastest electric racing car," Nissan prudently stops short of confirming that kind of velocity will be sustainable using EV power alone.

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At this point, the only things certain about the ZEOD RC are that it will use the same lithium-ion battery technology found in the LEAF, roll on specially developed Michelin racing tires and serve as a mobile test bed for a potential powertrain that Nissan ultimately hopes will be fitted into a top-category LMP1 prototype it intends to enter in the classic French competition, possibly in 2015. According to Andy Palmer, Executive Vice President and Executive Committee member at Nissan Motor Company Limited, the firm will spend the next year developing and evaluating multiple powertrain technologies for the ZEOD RC, including a "Zero Emission on Demand" option that would allow a driver to switch between electric and gasoline-powered drive -- one of several possibilities Nissan is already exploring.

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"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, noted Palmer at the introduction. "The technologies developed through the ZEOD RC program will form part of future innovations for Nissan road cars."

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