Press Releases
  • Register

Nissan ZEOD RC Prototype

zeod3smallc

LONDON- Two-time Le Mans 24 Hours LM P2 podium finisher and inaugural Nissan PlayStation GT Academy winner Lucas Ordóñez has been confirmed as the first race driver for Nissan's revolutionary ZEOD RC prototype.

The Nissan ZEOD RC will become the first car to complete an entire 13.6-kilometer (8.5 mile) lap of Le Mans on nothing but electrical power when it competes in this year's Le Mans 24 hours.

The car will combine electric motors with an incredible 1.5-liter, 3-cylinder turbo engine that produces 400 horsepower yet weights only 40kg (88 pounds).

The car will occupy the Automobile Club de l'Ouest's "Garage 56" at this year's Le Mans - a spot reserved for new and innovative technologies not previously seen in the French endurance classic.

For each tank of fuel used at Le Mans, the ZEOD RC will complete an additional lap on pure electric power. While operating under gasoline power, the car's battery will be recharged by regenerative braking - recycling the heat generated by the carbon brakes to produce electricity.

The development project is being used by Nissan as part of its planned assault on the LM P1 class of the Le Mans 24 Hours and the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2015.

Ordóñez won the inaugural Nissan PlayStation GT Academy competition in 2008 and made his Le Mans 24 Hours debut in 2011. In three attempts at the famous French endure, he has twice finished on the LM P2 podium. He also took championship wins in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup in LM P2 in 2011 and last year's Blancpain Endurance Series.

Most recently he took a class victory along with four new GT Academy graduates at the Dubai 24 Hours. Ordóñez was previously confirmed as the test driver for the ZEOD RC project but has now been promoted into a race seat

"Since becoming our first GT Academy winner, Lucas has demonstrated his speed and talent in a wide variety of Nissan machinery - LM P2, GT3, GT4, Super GT and even V8 Supercar. That versatility was a key part of the decision to place him as the inaugural race driver locked in for the Nissan ZEOD RC," said Nissan Global Motorsport Director Darren Cox. "The ZEOD RC is such a unique and different car. Anybody who drives the car is going to have to adapt to an entirely different experience. Our three drivers for Le Mans will have to be versatile and eager to learn. It will be very different but they will have the opportunity to be a part of something very special in what will not only be an extremely important project for Nissan, but for the automotive industry as a whole."

Lucas Ordóñez Q&A

Q1: What will it be like to drive the ZEOD RC at Le Mans?

Ordóñez:I'm really looking forward to it. It's a very challenging project for Nissan and for me as a racing driver, to have the first opportunity to drive an electric car at Le Mans at more than 300km/h. I can't wait to begin testing and get in the car at Le Mans and do those special laps under electric power.

Q2: How interesting do you find the development process for a car like this?

Ordóñez:The development process is really complex. Nobody has done something this technologically challenging with electric vehicles before. Completing an entire lap of Le Mans on nothing but electric power is an incredible groundbreaking challenge.

I've been in the workshop back in the UK with all of the ZEOD engineers and mechanics. You can feel how much effort they're putting on this project. It will huge for Nissan. It's very complicated to put a petrol engine and electrical motors into the same car and be able to switch between the two. The 400 horsepower petrol engine that weighs only 40 kg is incredibly small - I can bring the petrol engine to Le Mans in my bag as carry-on luggage!

Our ratio of power per kilo is just incredible. It's even better than a Formula 1 car. It's a big challenge but that is the type of challenging project that Nissan thrives on - they don't choose the easy path.

Q3: What is it going to be like to travel down the Mulsanne at 300 km/h with no engine noise?

Ordóñez:It's going to unique and strange. I'm used to driving down the Mulsanne Straight between the trees at more than 300 km/h but with a lot of noise from the Nissan LMP2 engine. This time it's going to be silent. It's going to be exciting and something different. Obviously I can't wait to feel that for the first time. It will be such a unique experience.

Q4: How big of a technical challenge is it to do a full 13.6 kilometers on just electricity?

Ordóñez:It's a huge technical development. The ZEOD guys have been working really hard to bring this to fruition. If you ask the electrical staff, the batteries and the electric motors make it a very complicated project.

It's the beginning of something big and the start of the electrical era in motor racing and a great learning platform for future electric road cars. Nissan wants to be the first to do this kind of big challenge. It's going to be a tough development process, but the engineers and team are very professional. Everyone will be amazed at what Nissan can do in terms of electrical power.

Q5: Will it be a big learning experience with all of the different controls in the cockpit?

Ordóñez:It's interesting. For me as a racing driver obviously there's going to be new buttons for me in the steering wheel, such as the switch to transform from petrol power to electrical power. At the moment, we are in the learning process but we'll soon start with proper testing and we will learn all about that and show all of the fans how the ZEOD RC works and cool it is to drive.

Q6: How excited are you to be selected as the first race driver for such a significant program?

Ordóñez:For me, it's a big responsibility. To be one of the drivers for the ZEOD RC, the first electric car that will go over 300k/h at Le Mans, it's going to be a big challenge for me. But I like to work that way. I know all of the big bosses and important people of motorsport will be watching this project and I feel really lucky and proud to be a part of it. Hopefully we can succeed together at Le Mans.

Six years ago I won GT Academy. I was a normal student. It's crazy to think how far I've come in six years. I'm now going to drive the most revolutionary and challenging car seen at Le Mans in many years.

I'd never expected to be in the Le Mans 24 Hours, and now I've done it three times with two podiums and a pole position. I now feel like a professional racing driver and ready for this new challenge. I'm ready to succeed with electric power as well.

About Nissan North America
In North America, Nissan's operations include automotive styling, engineering, consumer and corporate financing, sales and marketing, distribution and manufacturing. Nissan is dedicated to improving the environment under the Nissan Green Program and has been recognized as an ENERGY STAR® Partner of the Year in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency. More information on Nissan in North America and the complete line of Nissan and Infiniti vehicles can be found online at www.NissanUSA.com and www.InfinitiUSA.com, or visit the Americas media sites NissanNews.com and InfinitiNews.com.

 

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.

 

S5 Box

Login

Register