Nissan’s hybrid racer completes all-electric lap of Le Mans – but retires early

Tech-heavy ZEOD RC thwarted by gearbox failure
Nissan ZEOD RC

The world’s top automotive manufacturers did battle this weekend, braving 24-hours of solid, wheel-to-wheel racing at France’s daunting 8-mile-long Le Mans racing circuit.

Diesel, petrol and hybrid-electric vehicles from the likes of Audi, Toyota and Porsche all showcased a plethora of pioneering engineering updates that successfully squeezed every last drop of fuel out of the machines without compromising performance.

The Batmobile-esque ZEOD RC (Zero Emission On Demand Racing Car) entered the fray powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine - which develops a staggering 400 horsepower - and a pair of 110Kw electric motors. It managed to clock 300km/h (186mph) on a straight during practice using nothing but juice from the batteries.

The ZEOD RC completed a full all-electric lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe during qualifying – but was forced to retire after just 23 minutes of racing. According to Nissan, the culprit was one of the most conventional parts of the car – the transmission, with Nissan stating that "a traditional part of a gearbox broke."

Nissan ZEOD RC

Elsewhere, Nissan took its geeky gadgetry to the next level by ditching the archaic rear-view mirror in favour of a series of cameras and radar technology. High-resolution rear-facing cameras fed live footage to a large LCD monitor where the mirror would traditionally sit.

The addition of an in-built radar system also alerted drivers to surrounding traffic and even displayed closing speeds via a series of coloured arrows.

For example, when a pesky Audi closed in at speed behind the ZEOD, the arrows on the display pulsed red above that vehicle. Vehicles racing in the ZEOD's blindspot would similarly be flagged up with a large arrow pointing towards the potential danger. Conversely, slower cars - and there were a fair few - were marked out by a static yellow dot that ensured drivers Satoshi Motoyama, Lucas Ordóñez and Wolfgang Reip could keep an eye on traffic.

READ MORE: Nissan ZEOD RC: inside the future of endurance racing