Batman just about had it right

by Ernie Hernandez on March 13, 2012

At least one of them did

Nissan has joined forces with some of the biggest names in racing to cooperate on one of the most radical race car designs that we have seen for quite some time – the Nissan DeltaWing. So what does this have to do with electric vehicles (EVs)? Stay tuned.

A coalition of Dan Gurney (he of all kinds of racing fame and history), Don Panoz (the creator of the American Le Mans Racing Series), designer Ben Bowlby, Michelin Tires and Highcroft Racing developed the DeltaWing concept. With a car design, a tire manufacturer, the proven racing businessmen and a builder at the table, all they needed was an engine. Enter Nissan.

Nissan is providing a 1.6-liter direct injection gasoline turbocharged engine expected to produce about 300 horsepower in final racing trim. To put that into perspective, the same specifications apply to the road-going version of this engine which can be found in the Nissan Juke. The Juke sports 188 horsepower. Squeezing more than 50% more power out of this engine without grenading it in the process requires some pretty decent engineering. That’s what this has to do with electric vehicles.

This entire vehicle is a rolling experiment in vehicle efficiency. Start with an extremely narrow front end with racing tires only four inches wide under the bodywork, spaced just inches apart. The intent is to take the car to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, run in the experimental class, and achieve racing performance standards with half the weight, half the drag and half the power of those vehicles. Nissan will then look to apply lessons learned to their road-going vehicles. The opportunity to be involved in a project such as this must have sent a chill down the spines of those present during the initial presentation.

When evaluating the know-how needed to produce an entirely different vehicle (such as an EV) one has to consider not only the capabilities of the manufacturer, but the intents, biases, and agendas that they bring to the table. With the development of the LEAF and future Nissan and Infiniti electric vehicles, we have seen that Nissan has an extremely strong commitment to the success of these vehicles. But the expectation is that the gasoline engine will provide the basis for the vast majority of automobiles for likely the next 50 years or more. This being the case, this step into the DeltaWing partnership by Nissan is proving that they are not only looking at developing the future of automobile technology, but continuing to improve the efficiency of existing automotive technology as well.

If you have any interest in the engineering of this vehicle, we highly recommend watching this first video. It is a couple of minutes long, but we think, worth the time investment:

Another video was also embedded in the press release. This is more a marketing piece than the first, but still worth watching:

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