Le Mans has a long history of record making and breaking. Since the 24 hour race first began in 1923, it has been a true mecca of speed and innovation. Now Nissan has attacked this legendary course and set a new Le Mans record speed for electric-powered vehicles by achieving a velocity of 300 kph (186 mph) during qualifying with its ZEOD RC . The record was reached in the first run of the second night’s qualifying by driver Satoshi Motoyama as he blasted down the Mulsanne Straight.
The ZEOD RC uses a unique dual-powertrain configuration with both an electric motor and an internal-combustion engine. Nissan has big plans for this new machine and is looking to break many more records over the course of the weekend’s race.
Nissan wasn’t the only company looking to make waves at Le Mans this year either. Toyota challenged the Audi team that dominated for the last several years, and Porsche has returned to challenge for an overall title as well with F1 ace Mark Webber at the wheel. This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans was quite an exciting time for motorsports.
Click past the jump to read more about the Nissan ZEOD RC.
Why It Matters
Despite the rise of hybrid and alternative fuels in racing, full-electric powertrains have yet to enter the scene due to many obstacles. Apart from battery weight and longevity, getting an electric motor to operate at such incredible speeds within a car has proved difficult. Having Nissan achieve racing pace on pure electric power is just one more step into creating a viable, electric-powered race car.
Based on the Deltawing racer, the ZEOD RC is Nissan’s newest experimental race car. It features a dual-drivetrain setup that allows it to run by using a traditional internal-combustion engine or on pure-electric power. The car was created to test electrified racing technology on the world stage in some of the most demanding races in the world. Last weekend, Nissan successfully fielded the car in the 24 Hours of Le Mans under the "Garage 56" experimental car class. Sadly, the car was only able to complete 5 laps before retiring.
Gallery Nissan ZEOD RC
The revolutionary Nissan ZEOD RC has recorded the highest ever speed by an electric vehicle at Le Mans with Japanese ace Satoshi Motoyama reaching 300km/h on the Mulsanne Straight in qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Motoyama reached the speed on his electric run, achieving one the key goals of the unique prototype which features a dual electric/internal combustion engine powertrain featuring a pair of 110kW electric motors along with a remarkable 40 kg, 400 horsepower 1.5 liter three-cylinder turbo engine.
The ZEOD (zero emissions on demand) permits the driver to switch back and forth between the two power sources.
Motoyama achieved the target on his first run in the car after he missed out on driving on Wednesday night to a gearbox issue in the first session and a series of session-stopping red flags during the night.
"I drove ZEOD at Le Mans for the first time and instantly we were able to reach our target to run at more than 300km/h with electric power only," said Motoyama said. "I was so surprised with the speed and power of electricity and it felt great. In yesterday’s session we had some trouble with the gearbox in the first session then we had a heap of red flag periods and I didn’t get the chance to get into the car. But the guys on the team did a great job to fix the car and I and I was able to get started tonight right at the green flag tonight. Our first target of the top speed of 300 km/h with electric power is done and I think that was a really good first step."
Motoyama along with GT Academy winners Lucas Ordóñez and Wolfgang Reip all drove multiple stints aboard the ZEOD tonight - each recording their mandatory five night laps.
The Nissan ZEOD RC competes at Le Mans this week in "Garage 56" – an additional entry for vehicles showcasing new and innovative technology.
The team’s next goal is to complete an entire lap of Le Mans under race conditions using nothing but electric power. The Nissan team also revealed data from tonight’s record breaking lap showing the internal combustion engines revs at zero, yet the car topping 300km/h.