Nissan reveals electric racer for Le Mans 2014 - just don't call it DeltaWing II, OK?
following its own path Stateside and in possession of many of the patents following the split from Nissan this all-new racer is the ZEOD RC. And the D-word is off limits. "They wanted to build racing cars, we wanted to use it as a technologly test bed," shrugs Cox.
If the intellectual property lies with DeltaWing Racing in the States the emotional property is something Nissan quietly holds a claim to, having put its name to Bowlby's radical design and entered it in last year's Le Mans. And it's at Le Mans where the ZEOD RC is being revealed in public for the first time in Nissan's FanZone as part of the brand's 'fans first' philosophy. This rides on the back of huge popular support for the wild-looking DeltaWing, despite it sadly being knocked out of the race even after frantic efforts by the team to keep it running.
ZEOD stands for Zero Emissions On Demand and in case you hadn't already guessed the new car will be able to run purely on electric power at speeds of up to 186mph. Even Nissan's experience of electric cars hasn't figured out a way of doing this for 24 hours yet so there will still be some form of internal combustion engine involved too, be it as a range extender or full hybrid drive. Nissan isn't saying yet but Cox says the powerplant will be "radical" and not necessarily the highly developed 1.6-litre Juke engine that was in the DeltaWing. Indeed, everything on the car from the tub up is brand new with just the concept carried over into the ZEOD age.
That programme starts with a Garage 56 place for 2014 for experimental cars but, as above, it's Nissan's stated aim that the ZEOD should spawn a 'proper' LMP1 car.
And with Bowlby on board - he's now officially Nissan's Director of Motorsport Innovation - it's no surprise to see a return for the 'narrow track' configuration for the ZEOD RC. As Cox puts it, Bowlby is an aerodynamics and packaging man rather than drivetrain focused, his innovative and free-thinking approach finding a perfect partner with Nissan's established electric experience both in road cars like the Leaf and the NISMO Leaf RC experimental racing car.
With two thirds of the LMP2 grid at this year's Le Mans Nissan-powered the firm clearly has designs on continuing this quiet domination of endurance racer drivetrains onwards into the electric era. OK, so 'DeltaWing' as a brand continues on a different path. But as a concept Nissan is sticking by it and with Bowlby at the heart of it you can think of it as the start of a new age, not the premature end. Like Formula E advocate Lord Drayson, who we met recently, it'll put British engineers at the heart of the electric revolution too. Which can only be a good thing.
Oh, and the blue lights? Those parts of the car will be illuminated by LEDs when the car is running on purely electric power. Which'll look pretty cool half way down the Mulsanne at 186mph.