June 14, 2014
Le Mans Historic Electric Lap
June 14 – Le Mans – Just hours before the start of Le Mans 24 Hours, the Nismo ZEOD, the hybrid race car of Garage 56, Nissan ZEOD RC driver Wolfgang Reip ran an unprecedented all-electric lap around the Circuit de la Sarthe.
The historic moment followed on the heels of the ZEOD’s reaching 300 kmph two days before, driven by Reip’s teammate racing driver Satoshi Motoyama.
Nissan’s Chief Planning Officer Andy Palmer spoke with the Global Media Center moments after confirmation of the lap on what this means for Le Mans, for racing, and what Nissan is going to do in 2015 with its return to Le Mans with a new LMP1 program, announced on May 23. Read the transcript below.
Darren Cox, Global Head of Brand, Marketing & Sales, NISMO, on the Nissan ZEOD RC reaching 300 kmph:
Andy Palmer, Chief Planning Officer:
Let’s talk about what just happened, because that’s the big news. We just raced an electric car one lap, at Le Mans, full-electric with no problem. We just turned Le Mans green. That’s good news, right! Zero-emissions, green, electric lap – it can be done. And it can be done quickly and competitively.
We have the proof point now that electric cars are real. Electric cars are here to stay. Electric cars are boring? Actually, quite the opposite.
So, absolutely in line with corporate strategy and Nissan’s brand. Innovation – it’s clear. Excitement – it can’t get more exciting than this. And for everyone, obviously the LEAF is the most affordable electric car. So all aligned with the brand, and exciting for the hundreds of thousands of people who are watching it.
We’re in Garage 56. It’s exactly an experimental lap, an experimental race. We’re under no pressure. We’re going to do what we can do. We’re going to use the opportunity to demonstrate downsized engine technology, because we use a small engine to run the charger when the car is not on electric.
Obviously, ZEOD, the name of the car, stands for zero emissions on demand, which means that as we want, as the engine is generating charge in the battery, we can at any moment do an electric lap. The intention is to try to demonstrate that we that option throughout the race and we’ll try to do as many laps as we can.
I didn’t say that we were going to be in LMP1. I said we were going to win LMP1. There’s a difference, right? Whether it’s in 2015 or 2016, we’re going to come to Le Mans, we’re going to shake up the staid and boring establishment. We’re going to kick ass. Why? Because to some extent that’s what the brand is about, particularly the Nismo brand.
The Nismo brand, maybe outside of Japan or outside of the normal thinking – Nissan is a bad boy – and I mean that in a good sense. It’s hard to translate what a bad boy is – it sounds bad. No, no, it’s good. It’s a rogue – a little bit cheeky, a little bit fun, a little bit entertaining. Always pushing the boundaries of convention. Not breaking the rules – not criminal. Just a little bit “bad”.
It’s a great position because people love bad boys. And Nismo in particular can play that role – again, from the outside looking in, Nismo is associated with drifting and that’s a cool association outside of Japan. Inside japan, it’s viewed differently.
But we’re really here to democratize motorsports. And that democratization goes with the Nissan brand of “for everyone”. Democratized motorsports means that you don’t have to have dad’s fat wallet to be a racing driver with Nissan. You go on to PlayStation4, you get into GT Academy – if you’re good you’re in. If you’re not good enough, it doesn’t matter how much money you have, you’re not in. This is a really great way of turning motorsports on its head.
There was a quote yesterday in Autoweek, a US magazine, that basically said Nissan is turning motorsport upside-down. It’s revolutionizing motorsport and it’s the biggest transformation in motorsport since 1970. This is exactly why we’re here. This is exactly on the brand message.
Young people, appealing to millennials, bringing people back in to be interested in cars and motorsports, raising the brand halo of Nissan and Nismo, doing things differently, using different styling, using different technology. And trying to do it in a way that is both good and bad. And the way that we’re presenting it is that we’re being a little bit naughty.
But of course what is behind that is eliminating emissions from the car, reducing the carbon footprint and showing the technology that is Nissan: Innovation and Excitement for Everyone.