Nissan ZEOD RC Gets Public Debut In Japan

By John Beltz Snyder

October 18, 2013

A while back, Nissan announced its exciting hybrid-electric racecar prototype, called the ZEOD RC (Zero Emissions On Demand Racing Car), designed to study electric racing technology, and compete in next year’s 24 Hours Of Le Mans race. Now, the speedy EV makes its Japan debut, along with more interesting details and several new videos to go along with it.
Nissan has gone into greater detail about the propulsion of the ZEOD RC prototype. The LMP1 contender will run on electric power, but will also use a small turbocharged gasoline engine (we’re guessing something similar to the 1.6-liter unit used in the DeltaWing) to power the car while the battery—the same technology used in the Nissan Leaf—recharges itself via regenerative braking.
The ZEOD RC is expected to be the first car to run a complete lap of the 8.5-mile Le Mans circuit solely under electric power. It will likely reach speeds above 185 miles per hour. "To see the car go down the Mulsanne Straight at 300 kilometers per hour in virtual silence will be very unique,” said Nissan Director of Motorsport Innovation Ben Bowlby. We’re inclined to agree.
Nissan has a spot reserved for the ZEOD RC at Le Mans’ “Garage 56” which is home to contenders with particularly innovative racing technology.
As we mentioned earlier, this second debut comes with some new videos. This first heavily edited video shows some driving footage of the Nissan ZEOD RC.

Next, we offer the full press conference from Yokohama, Japan.

This third video shows a time lapse of the build process of the ZEOD RC.

And, just for kicks, here’s the crash test video of the ZEOD RC.

Click here to see the original debut post from June, along with the first launch videos. Scroll down for more details in the press release from Nissan, followed by an interview with Ben Bowlby about electric racing and the "moon race" development of the ZEOD RC. Interesting stuff.
Nissan ZEOD RC Makes Public Debut in Japan This Weekend
  • Ground-breaking electric prototype unveiled at NISMO headquarters
  • Japanese fans the first to see finished racecar up close
  • Zero Emissions on Demand racer at FIA World Endurance Championship round
  • Michael Krumm joins test driver program
YOKOHAMA, Japan - After an intense eight months of development, design and construction, Nissan's revolutionary Nissan ZEOD RC electric racecar was unveiled today at the headquarters of Nissan's performance arm, NISMO, in Yokohama.
The Zero Emissions on Demand racer has gone from zero to ZEOD in a mere 33 weeks after Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn in February announced Nissan's goal of returning to the Le Mans 24 Hours next year with electric power in the same venue as today's announcement.
The ZEOD RC will race next year at Le Mans after being invited by the Automobile Club de l'Ouest to occupy the "Garage 56" entry for vehicles showcasing new and innovative technology.
Nissan is using the ZEOD RC as a test bed to develop new electric vehicle technologies for Nissan's planned future LM P1 program.
The initial prototype show car of the revolutionary electric racer was revealed at this year's Le Mans 24 Hours, but today's unveil at the NISMO headquarters showcased the dramatic evolution of the design featuring revamped styling, new cooling inlets and aerodynamic updates.
The Nissan ZEOD RC was unveiled by NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani, Nissan Global Motorsport Director Darren Cox, and Nissan Director of Motorsport Innovation Ben Bowlby.
"The ZEOD RC utilizes our technology gained through the development of the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC, the first EV racer based on the mass production zero emission vehicle," said Shoichi Miyatani.
"The LEAF RC's energy management and efficient energy recovery system that is suitable for racing are just examples.  We believe these technologies serve as important steps for using EV for motor sports."
The Nissan ZEOD RC will become the first car to complete an entire race lap of the 8.5-mile Le Mans circuit on nothing but electric power. The car will reach speeds in excess of 300km/h (185 mph) and lap the famous French circuit faster than an LM GTE car.
The driver will be able to switch between electric power and a small lightweight turbocharged internal combustion engine. The car - which shares the same battery technology as the Nissan LEAF - will recharge the battery via regenerative braking.
Fans will get the chance to take a close look at the Nissan ZEOD RC in the Fuji paddock throughout the course of the FIA World Endurance Championship weekend.
"This weekend is an important milestone in the journey to Le Mans for the Nissan ZEOD RC," Darren Cox said.
"Our goal for the program is to draw back the curtain for the fans to see the innovative technology that Nissan is developing. We could not think of a better place than the Fuji round of the World Endurance Championship for the actual ZEOD RC to appear in public for the first time. We have interrupted our intense testing in the UK to fly the car to Japan for this display for the Japanese fans."
"Our thanks go to the Automobile Club de l'Ouest and the FIA WEC for not only inviting us to compete at Le Mans next year, but also for the opportunity to showcase the car here in Japan.
"We're going to let Michael Krumm take a look at the car for the first time, and he will join Lucas Ordóñez in a test driver role in helping develop the car. His experience in winning Super GT and FIA GT1 World Championships for Nissan will be a very valuable asset to the program. Michael is also a Nissan LEAF owner and a passionate believer in the future of electric vehicles for the road."
Nissan is renowned as a global leader in electric vehicles for the road - selling more than 80,000 Nissan LEAF since the start of sales in late 2010. The Nissan ZEOD RC is the first step on taking the lead in bringing electric vehicles to the racetrack.
"The Nissan ZEOD RC will utilize technology never before seen at Le Mans and will provide a very unique experience for the fans," Ben Bowlby said.
"To see the car go down the Mulsanne Straight at 300km/h in virtual silence will be very unique. Developing the battery technology to incorporate this into a Le Mans prototype is an enormous challenge, but the lessons learned will not only be very beneficial for the future LMP1 program, but also we can use this information to assist in the development of future versions of the Nissan LEAF and other electric vehicles for the road."
Fans at Fuji Speedway this weekend will also see Nissan power in action in the LMP2 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship.  The NISMO-tuned Nissan VK45DE V8 engine has dominated the season so far, taking pole position and victory at every round. With eight Nissan-powered LM P2 cars racing at Fuji the Japanese fans have a good chance of celebrating another win for Nissan.
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From Zero to ZEOD: Ben Bowlby Talks Electric Racing
TSURUMI, Kanagawa, Japan – The Nissan ZEOD RC was unveiled Thursday by NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani, Nissan Global Motorsport Director Darren Cox, and Director of Motorsport Innovation Ben Bowlby, ushering in a next generation of electric racing.
Bowlby, who is leading the car's development, described the evolution of the ZEOD since February as a "moon race," bringing the best of Nissan's innovative design and engineering to help change the face of zero-emission racing. He spoke with the Nissan Global Media Center about the ZEOD project and its landing next year at Le Mans.
Global Media Center: How has Nissan ZEOD evolved over the last seven months and what parameters have been key in its development?
Ben Bowlby: Once we decided that Nissan would go back to Le Mans in "Garage 56" to showcase the zero emission on demand technology, that's when the moon race began.
Basically, we had a very, very short time to get the car together, a ground-up design, a completely blank screen from a computer standpoint, and first of all looking at what the parameters for the electric ride would be. This is the chance, this is what ZEOD is really all about – it's the electric drive technology that gets us one lap at Le Mans at the racing speed. It's never been done before and will be a world record if we get it. It's not been done before because it's really difficult, so that set the whole tone for the project. We had to find low-drag solutions, low-volume resistance, packaging and lightweight constraints to make it possible to showcase the electric technology.
So really, because the electric challenge is what we're focused on, everything else had to fit in around it.
Media Center: Energy transfer to the battery from braking is vital to this process. Walk us through what's involved.
Bowlby: First of all, the cockpit is interesting as much as this is 2014 regulation for a cockpit in LMP1.  It's the parameter from the size standpoint, and also from the crash safety standpoint. This is full 2014 spec.
Inside the office, the driver has the tricky job of managing the car's controls. In fact, we're going to make it as easy as we can for him to seamlessly be able to transfer between the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) – gasoline-powered – and the electric drive. In fact, he will basically have a button that will be basically at his command – on demand. He will be able to change to the electric drive; he must only do that if he wants to complete a full lap, after the battery has been recharged during braking events, so the electric motors that power the car forward under electric drive are also used as the regeneration motors for braking events.
So when the driver is braking, we take as much possible as we can from each of the wheels at the rear of the car and store that electrical energy in the battery for use once the battery is full to make the next lap.
Media Center: Race conditions present "Yellow Flags," bad weather or other circumstances. How would that affect the brake-generated power?
Bowlby: We have got to monitor the state of charge of the battery and what is available to the driver at any time. We will manage that energy in the most-efficient way possible throughout the course of the race, and this is going to be something that we have time to learn about – what are the characteristics of the car? We'll do our simulation work, we'll have the drivers put into our GT Academy simulators, and then give them the ZEOD to drive and say, "What is the best strategy for achieving this efficient use of the electric power?"
Also, using the electric motors to generate a lot of the braking force requires a very state-of-the-art technology – brake blending – because we can't have only electric braking on the rear; there's too much energy for us to be able to absorb it all. We have to blend some mechanical braking and some electrical braking, and the driver shouldn't know that it's going on. His job is just to brake as late as he can and make lap time. That's what he does, and we have to do as much as possible for him.
Media Center: After the learning so far, what changes may be in store ahead for ZEOD RC before Le Mans?
Bowlby: It's been a seven-month design and manufacturing process. Now the learning really starts. We made assumptions about what was possible with the most-educated materials we could, but they are still assumptions. So, the first job is to make the thing run. We've had a little bit of difficulty, as we had to get it running in a way that is safe, that is fast enough and reliable enough. We need to understand exactly which parts of our assumptions were good, and which that there are still some challenges to overcome with some countermeasures.
So, countermeasures are coming for getting us running, and then we're going to learn about the fine detail and presumably we're going to develop the components to get the performance we need in time for Le Mans.
Media Center: This is not just about the track, but these technologies will be applicable in the future to other vehicles – electric or otherwise?
Bowlby: Absolutely. That is what is so interesting about this kind of racing – this experimental class. We're putting cutting-edge technology in this vehicle for the purpose of learning, and that learning is something we can carry out to future projects.