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'Holy fuel economy, Batman!' Radical race car unveiled for Le Mans test

By Tom McGowan, CNN
March 15, 2012 -- Updated 1232 GMT (2032 HKT)
  • Nissan unveils the radical new DeltaWing car for the Le Mans 24 Hour race
  • The DeltaWing has drawn comparisons with Batman's iconic Batmobile car
  • The experimental car is powered by a 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine
  • The DeltaWing will be driven by Britain's Marino Franchitti and German Michael Krumm

(CNN) -- Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a Batmobile-like race car which will take to the track at the legendary Le Mans 24 Hour event in June.

Nissan's experimental DeltaWing, which bears a startling resemblance to the vehicle made famous by the "Caped Crusader," was unveiled by the Japanese manufacturer in London on Tuesday.

The purpose of the car is to promote fuel efficiency, with the DeltaWing's 1.6 liter engine set to complete motorsport's legendary endurance challenge using half the gas of its regular counterparts.

Despite being granted entry to the marquee French race, the DeltaWing will not be counted in the final Le Mans 24 Hour classification as it is participating as an experimental vehicle.

Nissan's radical DeltaWing will take part in June's Le Mans 24 Hour race. It has drawn comparisons with comic-book hero Batman's iconic "Batmobile."
Nissan's radical DeltaWing will take part in June's Le Mans 24 Hour race. It has drawn comparisons with comic-book hero Batman's iconic "Batmobile."
Nissan DeltaWing
Nissan DeltaWing unveiled Nissan DeltaWing unveiled

"This announcement gives Nissan the opportunity to become part of a ground-breaking motorsport project, and one which could shape the future of the sport," Nissan's executive vice president Andy Palmer said in a statement.

It's a spectacular piece, we've got the engine of our dreams
Ben Bowlby

"As motor racing rulebooks have become tighter over time, racing cars look more and more similar and the technology used has had less and less relevance to road car development.

"Nissan DeltaWing aims to change that, and we are delighted to have become part of the project."

The DeltaWing's radical design has half the aerodynamic drag of a conventional car and is only half the weight. It can also produce 300 bhp (horsepower) thanks to a turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

Rather than being piloted by Bruce Wayne's vigilante alter ego, the first two drivers of the DeltaWing will be Britain's Marino Franchitti, the younger brother of IndyCar legend Dario Franchitti, and Michael Krumm of Germany.

"It's a spectacular piece," DeltaWing designer Ben Bowlby said. "We've got the engine of our dreams: it's the right weight, has the right power and it's phenomenally efficient."

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