Nissan ZEOD RC qualifying

The ZEOD RC is full of Le Mans firsts

We all know that the Nissan ZEOD RC entry into Le Mans 24 Hours this week is a car full of firsts. Here's one you may not have known about.

When the Nissan ZEOD RC hits the track for Le Mans 24 Hours, it will mark several firsts in the race's storied run. Long-considered the pinnacle of endurance racing, Le Mans has been a groundbreaking event for decades. This year, not only will the ZEOD RC become the first vehicle to complete a lap without combustion power, doing it all-electric, but it will also be the first to do so without any mirrors.

That's right. The ZEOD RC has no physical mirrors mounted on the car and as obvious as that would seem to aerodynamics and as common as rear-facing cameras on Le Mans cars has become, no car until now has attempted to race the Le Mans 24 Hours without physical mirrors. Most have at least one, usually three. But the ZEOD has none. The absence of mirrors became apparent during the qualifying rounds for the ZEOD RC.

Instead, it will be using a version of Nissan's new Smart Mirror showcased in the Rogue with award-winnin success (read about that here). The ZEOD's mirror system is a bit more sophisticated, thanks to some on-board radar and other gadgets that have already been proven helpful in Le Mans racing.

The rear-mounted camera delivers a wide-angle view to a large monitor in the cockpit. This monitor is also synched to built-in radar to alert the driver to approaching and passing vehicles. Visually, the driver sees approaching cars as colored dots - red if approaching fast, yellow if slower - and passing cars are marked as large arrows pointing to the side of the car they're passing on in a sort of blind spot management system for racing.

Nissan says that the Le Mans driver-assist system could easily become the future of road cars, which will almost certainly have more sophisticated rear-view and passing alerts. As Nissan NISMO head Darren Cox stated, "..a system which can provide safe and important information at 300km/h in a high-pressure situation.." can be adapted to road cars as well.

As a backup, the ZEOD RC is also set to be fitted with backup physical mirrors should the camera and radar systems fail for any reason. These can be mounted in the pit in seconds, but so far, during testing, there has not been a failure.