Nissan's ZEOD electric racer has seen its Le Mans 24 Hours ambitions dashed after just 23 minutes this weekend, though there was still enough time for the Japanese car company to hit three "world's firsts" on the track. Despite the high-tech powertrain, which pairs a 1.5-liter three-cylinder gas engine with two 110kW electric motors, the ZOED's hopes were dashed by a low-tech fault, affecting the gearbox and forcing the Nissan team to bring the racer back in after just five laps.
While that was only a fraction of the race time the 24-hour-long event demands, Nissan was still able to use it as a test case for the ZOED.
First, the company ditched the standard rear-view mirror and replaced it with its Smart Rearview Mirror system announced back in February. Footage from a high-res camera on the back of the car is sent to a display where the traditional mirror would be mounted.
The system can also flag up approaching cars behind the ZEOD, illustrating their movements using on-screen arrows. The same approach is used to indicate whether another car is trying to overtake.
Nissan got special permission to use the technology, with the Le Mans organizers usually mandating regular mirrors. This year, however, the race included a spot for a technology showcase entry, dubbed "Garage 56", which Nissan grabbed for the ZEOD.
Even before the race began, Nissan had clinched another "world's first": completing a full 8.5 mile lap of the track on electric power alone. Finally, there was a 300 km/h (186mph) run on the legendary Mulsanne Straight, completed during the qualifying lap on Thursday last week.
Nissan says it will re-enter Le Mans in 2015.