The Nissan ZEOD RC petrol-electric hybrid will be the first car to attempt the Le Mans 24 Hour without the aid of mirrors.
Like the Deltawing before it, the ZEOD RC is competing as a guest of the organising committee under its Garage 56 programme, which aims to foster new technologies, different thinking and green innovations.
As such the Nissan team is not only free from the class restrictions that bind other entrants, but is also given greater latitude with respect to race rules.
With the consent of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest, the ZEOD RC is the first vehicle in the history of the 24 Hours of Le Mans to race without any mirrors. In their place is a rear-facing camera that’s displayed through an LCD screen housed in the car’s cabin.
According to Nissan, the system not only displays an unobstructed rearward view, but also eliminates the blind spots of a traditional mirror system. The lack of exterior mirrors reduces the ZEOD RC’s aerodynamic drag, which helps to improve fuel efficiency.
To complement the camera Nissan has installed radar into the car, which can warn the driver about traffic that’s coming up, as well as any approaching vehicles.
Large arrows on screen point out competitors that are closing in on the ZEOD RC, with arrows changing colour depending on their approach speed. The system will also give the driver additional warnings if a LM P1-class vehicle, which typically vie for outright honours, is about to overtake the Nissan.
Given that many competitors whiz around the Circuit de la Sarthe at over 300km/h safety is of the utmost importance. Nissan says that during its many weeks of testing no failures have occurred, but should the electrical gremlins bite the car does come with mounting points for traditional mirrors. All the ZEOD RC driver has to do is somehow tip-toe his way back to the pits to have them fitted.
The wedge-shaped ZEOD RC features a petrol-electric hybrid that pairs a 294kW/380Nm turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine with a set of electric motors and a lithium-ion battery pack. During this year’s race Nissan is hoping that the ZEOD RC will be the first car to complete a lap of the 13.7km Circuit de la Sarthe track entirely on electric power.