Nissan ZEOD racerNissan

Nissan's radical ZEOD hybrid racing car has been setting new records at Le Mans, even before the lights go out on the 24-hour race this weekend, setting the highest ever speed recorded by an electric vehicle on the La Sarthe circuit, at 186mph.

The impressive feat was achieved by Japanese driver Satoshi Motoyama on the course's infamous Mulsanne Straight, during race qualifying this week.

Despite the ZEOD's (zero emissions on demand) hybrid drivetrain, Motoyama was able to achieve the electric-only speed due to the car's ability to switch between the petrol and battery power sources at the flick of a switch.

"I drove ZEOD at Le Mans for the first time and instantly we were able to reach our target to run at more than 300km/h with electric power only," Motoyama said.

"I was so surprised with the speed and power of electricity and it felt great. In yesterday's session we had some trouble with the gearbox in the first session then we had a heap of red flag periods and I didn't get the chance to get into the car.

"But the guys on the team did a great job to fix the car and I and I was able to get started tonight right at the green flag."

Mating 110kW electric motor to an innovative, lightweight 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine developing an astonishing 395bhp, the Nissan ZEOD is amongst the most advanced cars to take part in the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Its innovative design and mechanicals means that it competes from 'Garage 56' – traditionally reserved for cars that push the technological envelope.

After setting a new high-speed record, the team's next goal is to complete an entire lap of the La Mans course under race condition under electric power alone.