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Welcome to Nissan's stunning ZEOD racer
Remember in the good old days when the internet was all fields, and motorsport was used to develop cars, not promote them? Well, this is precisely what Nissan’s hoping to capture with this, the DeltaWing coupe. We were such big fans of last year’s original DeltaWing at Top Gear, we built our own version. And now this: what the manufacturer claims will be the fastest electric car in the world when it races at Le Mans 24 hours in 2014. Just look at it!
So, what exactly is the ZOED? According to Darren Cox, Global Motorsport Director at Nissan, it’s ‘a testbed for various combinations of batteries and small, turbocharged petrol engines.’ He adds, ‘In the future, we want to build road cars that let you choose between electric power and petrol power yourself - Zero Emissions On Demand - and in motorsport development is so much faster.
‘Everything’s very much on the bench at the moment, but we also need to demonstrate the durability and fun of electric power, so the car will run in pure EV mode at up to 186mph [all the blue bits will light up when the cars running on pure EV power]. Ultimately, if it works on the Mulsanne Straight, it’ll work on your high street.’
Wondering how something this radical races at Le Mans? The race’s governing body, Automobile Club L’Ouest (ACO), have a single grid spot called Garage 56, which is reserved for cars that aren’t competing, but showcasing new and innovative technology. That’s how the first DeltaWing came to be, proving quite nicely that the designer’s narrow-track race could actually go round corners until it was bumped off in last year’s race.
Ben Bowlby, the bloke that came up with the original DeltaWing, is now on Nissan’s payroll as Director of Motorsport Innovation, so it’s no great surprise that it follows on with the gently priapic outline of its spiritual forbear. He says 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 12 months we will be testing multiple drive train options in an extensive test program. The test programme 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.
‘A large part of our work in the coming months is to discuss with the ACO future opportunities for the ‘electrification’ of the Le Mans rules in the future and work towards delivering appropriate technology. Garage 56 is a bold move by the ACO to showcase Innovation and allow testing of untried components and systems for future competition use. To this end they are the most forward thinking promoter in motorsport today.”
Considering more than half of the LMP2 grid at this weekend’s Le Mans 24 hour are running Nissan engines, it’s no great surprise that the company’s looking to spread itself across the endurance racing world. But how much d’you think this’ll actually inform road car development, TopGear.commers?