Le Mans: Nissan ZEOD praised for run on electric power

Jun 16, 2014 by Nancy Owano weblog

Racing at Le Mans is all about pushing technology limits and much attention was paid this year on the Nissan zero-emissions hybrid electric racer called ZEOD (Zero Emissions On Demand) RC. Its team was hoping it would make a true name for itself in performance. This is the hybrid electric prototype racer with innovative design. The good news is that the ZEOD indeed made quite a name for itself in an earlier run before a setback later on. The car has a 1.5-liter, 40 kilogram, 400 horsepower, three-cylinder engine and a pair of 110kW 40,000 rpm electric motors. The ZEOD with driver Satoshi Motoyama at the wheel realized its goal of reaching 300km/h (186 mph) with pure electric power on Le Mans' Mulsanne Straight, setting a record as the fastest electric-powered entry.

"They say that life is a rollercoaster, but certainly motorsport takes this to the next level. Just today we've had massive highs followed by a temporary low," said Darren Cox, Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, NISMO, in a Saturday statement from Nissan. What was he referring to? The long and the short of the ZEOD story in this year's Le Mans was that the Nissan ZEOD RC completed the all-electric Le Mans lap but had to retire shortly thereafter, in a situation which Nissan itself described as "new tech" being halted by an "old tech" issue.

In a press release on Saturday, headlined, "Nissan ZEOD RC heroic electric lap followed by heartbreak," Darren Cox, global head of brand, marketing & sales, NISMO said, "We were very confident in starting the race and earlier in the week we had already exceeded 300 km/h.We were looking forward to doing some more electric laps throughout the race but a traditional part of a gearbox broke. It is a real shame because we were really looking forward to showcasing the EV technology in the race. It has been an amazing experience for everyone that has been involved." ZEOD is also of engineering interest because of its lack of mirrors, instead using a rear-facing camera that projects to a screen, combined with a radar system using dots and arrows on a display screen. The symbols change color and size depending on approaching cars and how fast they are going.

Le Mans-watchers in the press gave Nissan credit for having showcased the ZEOD. They acknowledged its impressive advance despite the turn of events. As The Telegraph said on Sunday, "Nissan's ZEOD didn't go far in the race, but the problem that stopped it in the first half hour, ironically, was with its very conventional gearbox, a simple off-the-shelf piece of a complex jigsaw that in all other aspects was anything but unambitious."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

Similarly, Jo Borrás of Gas2 said, "there's one thing about the ZEOD RC's performance at Le Mans 2014 that no one will be able to talk down: it was the first car to complete a full lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe on electric power, and the first battery powered car to hit 300 km/h on the Mulsanne Straight."

Explore further: Kyocera to bring solar farm transformation to idle golf course

More information: * nissannews.com/en-US/nissan/usa/releases/nissan-zeod-rc-heroic-electric-lap-followed-by-heartbreak
* www.themotorreport.com.au/59139/nissan-zeod-rc-ticking-boxes-at-le-mans-over-300kmh-and-no-mirrors

Related Stories

DeltaWing concept car to race at Le Mans

Jun 10, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The Le Mans endurance race is a 24-hour competition that features cars that typically have an engine that comes in at over five liters. One team, known as the Project 56 group, has created ...

Nissan Nismo is smartwatch with driving experience

Sep 10, 2013

(Phys.org) —The smartwatch as a killer form factor in computer wearables is still up for debate. For some consumers, even the greatest-looking designs will not justify the cost of wearing a general-purpose ...

Bhutan, Nissan partner on electric cars

Feb 21, 2014

The Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan has tapped Nissan Motor Co. to supply electric cars for its taxis and government fleet, hoping to reduce reliance on imported oil.

EV racing car named Lola breaks world speed record

Jun 27, 2013

(Phys.org) —EVs might be parked in people's minds as second cars of convenience, suitable for around-town errands and small-distance commutes. Forward thinkers are hoping to see EVs do their thing on long-distance ...

Nissan Leaf electric wins Japan car of the year

Dec 04, 2011

Japanese motor giant Nissan won Car of the Year Japan at the Tokyo Motor Show on Saturday for its Leaf electric model, its makers said, the first time an electric vehicle has picked up the award.

Nissan chief pitches electric taxis to Hong Kong

Sep 12, 2012

(AP)—Nissan President Carlos Ghosn met Wednesday with Hong Kong's leader to pitch a proposal for the Japanese car maker to supply electric taxis to the southern Chinese city.

Recommended for you

Dutch team reveals 'energy-positive' family car

Jul 03, 2015

The Solar Team Eindhoven (STE) student team from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e, The Netherlands) today presents its new solar-powered car. Stella Lux is an intelligent, solar-powered family car ...

Five properties of physics that affect your gas mileage

Jul 03, 2015

Physics is inescapable. It's everywhere, making your Frisbees fly, your toilets flush and your pasta water boil at a lower temperature at altitude. We've harnessed these forces, along with chemistry and engineering, ...

User comments : 6

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

4.7 / 5 (3) Jun 16, 2014
If it's an unmodified gearbox they may have had a problem dealing with the immense torque that electric motors can put out.

I recently was at my local car dealership, inquiring after their EVs. We ended up chatting about maintenance costs. I had suspected that maintenance would be lower, as electric motors are more robust and have less moving parts. But the salesperson had to admit that that was equalized due to higher wear and tear on the gearbox.
5 / 5 (4) Jun 16, 2014
A pure electric car can be easily made without a gearbox and, if you put in two electric motors instead of one, without a differential too.
not rated yet Jun 16, 2014
I'd love to see what those electric motors looked like!

I'd also love their radar system for approaching cars for my motorcycle. Paired with a HUD (google glass?) it would rule!
5 / 5 (1) Jun 16, 2014
The reason for using gearbox even in electric vehicle is that even electric motors have their best efficiency at certain RPM range. Electric motors can create torque from zero RPM, but it does not mean that they are very efficient over full RPM range.
not rated yet Jun 17, 2014
The reason for using gearbox even in electric vehicle is that even electric motors have their best efficiency at certain RPM range. Electric motors can create torque from zero RPM, but it does not mean that they are very efficient over full RPM range.

More relevant to the topic, electric motors lose torque and power quickly beyond a certain speed that depends on their design, because it has a similiar reaction to high frequency current as electric transformers do. The metal "core" of the motor starts to heat up due to hysteresis effects and stray induction currents, and the impedance of the motor windings go up as it turns faster, which means it won't take in as much power from the batteries anymore while more and more of the power is lost to heat.

So you can't go from 0 to 300 km/h on a single gear without seriously oversizing the motor. That's why the Tesla Roadster had a top speed limited to 201 km/h. They tried to have a two-speed gearbox, but couldn't make it last.

not rated yet Jun 17, 2014
A pure electric car can be easily made without a gearbox and, if you put in two electric motors instead of one, without a differential too.

That's indeed how many industrial electrical vehicles work (forklifters for instance).

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.