Nissan's official unveiling today at Nismo headquarters in Yokohama, Japan, of its revolutionary 'Zero Emissions On Demand' race car – the Nissan ZEOD RC – is just one of several ways the company has found to underscore its landmark decision to embrace motosport as a potent means of building its image and selling more cars.
The reveal follows a breakneck 33-week, UK-based design, construction and development phase for the car, which will race at Le Mans next year in the organisers' 'Garage 56' position; this is reserved for cars that showcase important new technology.
Last June the ZEOD RC's spiritual predecessor, DeltaWing, was also the Le Mans Garage 56 entry and it raced promisingly until eliminated in an accident.
Nissan's motorsport commitment is growing fast. Last weekend a four-car team of Nissan Altima saloons competed for the first time in Australia's Bathurst 1000 for V8 supercars - arguably the country's most important motor race, even in the light of the Melbourne Grand Prix - and the company's imaginative Driving Academy programme, which successfully set out a couple of years ago to find skilled young racing drivers through challenging computer driving games, has been yielding impressive success.
Today's ZEOD RC unveiling by Nismo president Shoichi Myatani, was disrupted by typhoons in the Tokyo area that delayed the arrival of several of the car's key supporters within the Nissan management, principally Nissan's global motorsport director, Darren Cox.
The father of the car's concept, British-born Ben Bowlby, who was behind DeltaWing and has recently been appointed Nissan's director of motorsport innovation, was also in attendance.
Nissan's plan now is to show the car to its most ardent fans at this weekend's World Endurance Championship round at Fuji - which will also feature LMP2 cars powered by Nissan's dominant VK45DE V8 engine.
Bowlby claims the ZEOD RC will be the first electric car capable of completing a full lap of the 8.5-mile Le Mans circuit - at speeds up to 185mph - on electric power only, having used energy management and recovery systems very similar to the production Leaf to collect that energy in a Leaf-like lithium-ion battery during previous petrol-driven laps.
As well as its electric drive, the ZEOD RC is propelled by its super-efficiency British-developed 1.6-litre, four-cylinder petrol unit developing around 300bhp. The engine, understood to be based on Nissan components, was largely developed by RML in the UK, who will run the car at Le Mans.
The principle is understood to be that the car will be capable of stints of about nine laps, one of which will be on purely electric drive, thus saving fuel (and refuelling time) and extending the range.