Nissan is aiming to hit speeds approaching 200mph using only electric power when it brings its innovative ZEOD RC experimental prototype to the Le Mans 24 Hours next year.
A target speed of 300kph (186mph) using only the twin electric motors and lithium-ion batteries at the heart of the ZEOD's powertrain has been set by Nissan, which unveiled its 2014 Garage 56 racer at Le Mans on Friday.
Designer Ben Bowlby, who has joined Nissan full-time as director of motorsport innovation, explained that the aim is for the ZEOD RC to set similar lap times when using only electric power or while engaging its internal combustion.
"The first target, and it may not sound a great challenge, is to do one lap as a pure EV," he said. "That is about 40 mega joules of energy – which is an incredibly large amount of energy to store in a battery."
The ZEOD, whose nomenclature stands for Zero Emissions On Demand, will begin its test program this fall as a pure electric vehicle, Nissan global motorsport director Darren Cox revealed.
"When the car runs for the first time we are intending that it will be fully electric; we won't even have the [gasoline] engine in it," said Cox, who stressed that it is Nissan's intention to complete the 24 Hours without changing batteries. "We want to prove we can be very fast with just electric power, to prove that electric vehicles can be exciting and fast."
The configuration of the internal combustion powerplant, described by Nissan as a booster engine or range extender, has yet to be revealed, but Cox has promised innovation in this area as well.
"No one has done what we are going to do with the internal combustion engine," he explained. "It will be something completely different to what you have seen in motorsport so far."
Nissan has retained the configuration of last year's DeltaWing experimental racer for the ZEOD coupe for reasons of efficiency, Bowlby explained: "This is a new car, but it uses the narrow track technology of the DeltaWing and that gives us great efficiency. It is something we understand and it is an efficient way of getting around Le Mans."
Bowlby added that the rear-biased weight distribution of the DeltaWing configuration will offer benefits in terms of energy recovery.
"One of the great things about having a rear weight bias is that our regeneration and traction are optimized," he said. "We have 60 percent of the braking from the rear of the car, so we have a very good situation for optimizing energy recovery."
The ZEOD will be built by RML, which ran last year's DeltaWing program once Nissan became involved. The electric motors and batteries are understood to be under development at Nissan's NISMO motorsport arm in Japan.