From the groundbreaking LEAF electric car to the utterly bizarre Murano CrossCabriolet, Nissan is a company that doesn’t like convention. Now, it’s taking that attitude racing.
The Japanese carmaker is already known for sponsoring the DeltaWing and constructing the hybrid ZEOD RC 24 Hours of Le Mans racers, but both of these cars are only allowed to compete as experimental “Garage 56” entries.
For 2015, Nissan plans to contest the world’s most famous endurance race outright with a radical new car.
The current top competitors each have different hybrid power trains but very similar body styles. That’s because they’re governed by a very strict set of regulations, newly revised for 2014. However, Nissan thinks it can bend those rules a little.
“We have to be allowed to be the bad boys of the industry,” Palmer said, “to interpret the regulations.”
So what will this “bad boy” racer look like?
A triangular shape with a narrow front track like the DeltaWing and ZEOD is out, as even Nissan’s lawyer-engineers couldn’t find a way to make that design conform to the regulations. Palmer said he still hopes the car will be visually distinctive. Maybe it will have eight wheels.
The car may also be a hybrid like its main rivals. A fully-electric car just isn’t practical for a 24-hour race, and Nissan may be able to apply some of the lessons learned from the ZEOD to its 2015 entry.
If Nissan can’t get what it wants from the Le Mans organizers, it may try the ultimate cheating method: not competing at all. The company may take its car to another race with more liberal rules, such as the Nurburgring 24 Hours, which recently featured a hydrogen-hybrid Aston Martin Rapide S among its entries.