Feast your eyes on Nissan’s new Audi-chasing Le Mans beast, the ZEOD. Before you say it, no, it’s not the DeltaWing with a new paint job, and nor will it use another jazzed-up Juke engine. ZEOD stands for Zero Emissions On Demand.
What you’re looking at is an electric racer pencilled in to hit the famous French circuit next year under the prototype ‘Garage 56’ banner, where the car’s results don’t actually count but the team can drive for pride.
This is cold, hard innovation capable of – get this – over 300kph, or 186mph in old money. That’s rapid in anyone’s book, and after running this prototype at next year’s Le Mans 24-Hour race Nissan plans to develop it into a real LMP1 machine to challenge the engineering giants of Audi and Porsche.
It can’t be completely electric because the batteries would last about a lap, but electric power will play a big part in the ZEOD’s performance. Expect it to pair up with something untried at this level, like a range-extender engine, because if one thing’s for sure Nissan won’t be copying the competition.
Nissan can’t be short on balls to talk like this. Audi has only failed to win Le Mans twice in the last 10 years, and one of those was because it didn’t even compete. Nissan will have to pull out all the stops to topple the four-ringed goliaths.
It uses the same sort of shape as the DeltaWing, so it’s aerodynamic, ultra lightweight and uses relatively tiny tyres that save on resources but give the same – or better – cornering grip as the competition.
Plus, lessons from the ZEOD will go into Nissan’s future road cars, so we can say goodbye to boredom-wagons like the Leaf and get ready to greet a new age of genuinely fun, genuinely fast electric cars.
In the next year Nissan is due to test a bundle of different drivetrain configurations to see what punches the ZEOD along with the most pace, using the least energy. Plus it’ll have blue LED lighting for when it’s running in full-electric mode, which will look pretty awesome at night.
At present there isn’t even a set of relevant rules to allow a heavily-electric class of racer to compete at the Circuit de la Sarthe. Nissan reckons this and all the other obstacles in its way are just minor hurdles though, and we can’t wait to see what the ZEOD brings to the Le Mans party.