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Nissan ZEOD gives electric Le Mans performance

Hybrid powered Nissan ZEOD race car making history at the Circuit de la Sarthe Le Mans track.

The combustion engine has dominated the legendary Le Mans 24-hour race for 91 years, but maybe those days are over. Nissan’s hybrid ZEOD race car took to the Circuit de la Sarthe ─ and in doing so gave the world a glimpse of what is to come.

The Nissan ZEOD – short for zero emissions on demand – achieved its first major milestone during qualifying. After a gearbox issue and a few red flags rained on the race car’s parade, driver Motoyama was finally able to hit the track, putting the twin-110kW electric motors to good use.

Nissan wanted to perform an electric-only lap, which it managed to do in rapid time. Motoyama achieved more than 300kmh (186mph) without the help of the 40kg, 400hp 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo, which in itself is a fascinating bit of kit.

“I drove ZEOD at Le Mans for the first time and instantly we were able to reach our target to run at more than 300km/h with electric power only. I was so surprised with the speed and power of electricity and it felt great, Motoyama commented.

He added: “Our first target of the top speed of 300 km/h with electric power is done and I think that was a really good first step.”

The Nissan ZEOD competes as part of the ‘Garage 56’ entry for vehicles that is designed to showcase the development of innovative, greener technologies. Incidentally it was the Nissan DeltaWing (which shares more than a passing resemblance to the ZEOD) that inaugurated the special category in 2012.

Nissan now hopes to achieve an entire lap of the 8.5-mile course during the actual Le Mans race, which starts on June 14th 2014, running on nothing but electric power.

Check out Audi’s guide on how to achieve the perfect Le Mans lap.

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