Conventional wisdom suggests that a fast race car is also a beautiful race car, but perhaps Nissan’s Zero Emissions on Demand (ZEOD) racer proves that beauty is more than skin deep, because it looks far more impressive – to these eyes at least – ‘before’ its bodywork is attached.

The finished car was unveiled in front of an audience of Japanese fans at Nissan’s Nismo headquarters in Yokohama, before being showcased in the Fuji paddock during next weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship race.

It’s been eight months in the making, after Nissan Chairman and CEO Carlos Ghosn announced the company’s goal of returning to the Le Mans 24 Hours last February.

The ZEOD RC has been invited by the event’s organiser Automobile Club de l’Ouest to occupy the “Garage 56” entry for vehicles showcasing new and innovative technology. ZEOD RC is Nissan’s test bed for electric vehicle technologies which it hopes to use within a future LMP1 program.

“The ZEOD RC utilizes our technology gained through the development of the Nissan LEAF Nismo RC, the first EV racer based on the mass production zero emission vehicle,” said Nismo President, Shoichi Miyatani.

“The LEAF RC’s energy management and efficient energy recovery system will serve as important steps for using EV technologies in motor sports.”

The Nissan ZEOD RC will become the first car to complete an entire race lap of the 8.5-mile Le Mans circuit on nothing but electric power, reaching speeds of up to 300km/h (188mph).

The driver will be able to switch between electric power and a small lightweight turbocharged internal combustion engine, which will be used together with regenerative braking to recharge the battery. This is based on the same technology used in the road going Nissan LEAF.

Drivers Michael Krumm and Lucas Ordóñez will be first behind the wheel, who will now help develop the car prior to next year’s Le Mans 24 Hours.

First shakedown run