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One of the most hallowed racetracks in the world recently got an electric shave, and not just from a weedwhacker. The Nissan Leaf NISMO RC, which debuted at the New York Auto Show a few months prior, finally got a thrashing around the Circuit de la Sarthe. It was quiet, yet not entirely unexciting.
Nissan’s Chief Operating Officer Carlos Tavares was behind the wheel of the electric race car, for an event called the “Le Mans vers le futur” that attempts to take the oxymoron out of the phrase “electric race car.”
Click the jump for the video, and skip ahead to 3:00 where things really start to get lively. And if you’re wondering, it took Tavares 22 minutes to lap the track, or about the same about of time it took Duncan Hamilton to get completely smashed on brandy Alexanders.
This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans has only just finished (and what a race it was), but some teams are already making plans for 2012. No, we’re not talking about Audi or Corvette Racing, but a newcomer to the series, GreenGT. And the team won’t just be piloting a new car, but a whole new method of getting around the track, with the GreenGT LMP H2 race car an electric vehicle.
The ACO (Automobile Club de L’Ouest), which is responsible for the Le Mans race, has confirmed the car will compete in an experimental race class, meaning it won’t be up against the top dogs, but it will be racing, using a hydrogen-powered electric engine which is expected to make around 402-hp and what will likely be more torque than the whole rest of the field put together.
Unconvinced? Check out the video of the car testing on track after the jump:
Rumors had indicated that Nissan would unveil the next-generation Versa at the New York Auto Show this week, but no one saw this coming. Above is a lone image of what the Japanese automaker is calling the Leaf NISMO RC (Racing Competition). Yes, a Leaf race car!
Build by Nissan’s NISMO racing division the car makes use of an electric drivetrain similar to the one found in the production Leaf with a 80 kW electric motor that produces 107-hp and 207 lb-ft of torque, enabling a 0-62 mph time of 6.85 seconds.
Nissan claims it can be recharged up to 80 percent in just 30 minutes and can run for 20 minutes at a time.
With styling cues similar to the Leaf, this car is dramatically different with a new coupe design and 18-inch wheels. Plus it’s 6.7-inches wider, 0.8-inches longer and sports a 3.9-inch shorter wheelbase. Overall it sits over a foot (13.8-inches) lower than the Leaf production car.
Based on an entirely new platform made of carbon fiber, the NISMO RC weighs just 2,068 lbs – roughly 40 percent less than the road car.
“Combining the talents of NISMO, Nissan’s world renowned motorsports group, and engineers behind some of the company’s Super GT and FIA GT1 race teams, the Nissan LEAF NISMO RC will serve as a rolling laboratory for the accelerated development of EV and aerodynamic systems, as well as a platform for the development of new green motorsports series,” said Carlos Tavares, chairman, Nissan Americas in a statement. “Nissan LEAF owners are fully embracing this new world of zero emission technology. We believe the same potential exists in the motorsports world as well, with Nissan proud to be first on the starting grid.”
Nissan has announced it will showcase the car at several motorsports events this year and is examining the possibility of launching a NISMO RC spec series. Look for more images and details from AutoGuide’s 2011 NY Auto Show coverage here, starting Wednesday, April 20th.
This new series will be performed on tracks around the world and in terms of performance will rival the current FIA Formula-3 series, which uses 2.0-liter gas engines.
The new race car, which is developed by the French company Segula Matra Technologies, features a pair of electric motors, mated to a custom 2-speed transmission developed by Hewland.
All the racing rules and regulations have not been announced yet, for instance, how long the races will be and if teams will be allowed to change the lithium-ion battery packs during the race. The SAFT developed battery pack can currently run for about 20-25 minutes and can take up to 90 minutes to charge.
The frame and bodywork for the new race car was developed by Mercedes-Benz Petronas F1 team at their facility in Brackley, U.K.
Michelin will develop new energy saving tires for the series. The prototype was tested at the Magny-Cours and Le Mans Bugatti circuit, where it set some impressive performance numbers. 0-60 mph took just 3 seconds, and it hit a top speed of 155 mph.
The plan is for the series to run 10 races on five continents. We wish this series all the best.