|The 400 hp DIG-T R race engine. Click to enlarge.|
Nissan unveiled a 400 hp (298 kW) 1.5-liter, three-cylinder turbo gasoline engine weighing only 40 kg (88 lbs) as the companion internal combustion engine for its electric ZEOD RC which will debut at Le Mans this year. (Earlier post.) At the unveiling of the ZEOD RC in June 2013, Nissan said that it would test out variants of new electric drive train technologies as part of its intended future return to LM P1 competition.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will become the first entry at Le Mans to complete a lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe under nothing but electric power in June. A single lap of each stint (a fuel stint lasts approximately one hour) will be electric powered, then the new Nissan DIG-T R 1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo engine will take over.
|DIG-T R. Click to enlarge.|
The base engine is only 500mm tall x 400mm long x 200mm wide (19.68" x 15.74" x 7.78"). The engine would easily fit inside the luggage guides seen at major airports around the world, Nissan noted.
Revving to 7,500rpm, the Nissan DIG-T R produces 380 N·m (280 lb-ft) of torque. At a ratio of 10 horsepower per kilogram the new engine has a better power-to-weight ratio than the new engines to be used in the FIA Formula 1 World Championship this year.
With the entire concept of the Nissan ZEOD RC focussing heavily on downsizing and efficiency, Nissan turned to new lubricants partner Total to help develop the engine. The French lubricants manufacturer has worked closely with Nissan engineers to develop fuel and lubricants to maximise the potential of the engine.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will occupy “Garage 56” at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours, an additional entry reserved by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest for new technologies never previously seen at the classic French endurance event. (The Nissan Deltawing made its debut in Garage 56 in 2012.)
Lessons learned from the development of the ZEOD racecar will also be used in the development of Nissan’s planned entry into the LM P1 class of the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2015.
Our engine team has done a truly remarkable job with the internal combustion engine. We knew the electric component of the Nissan ZEOD RC was certainly going to turn heads at Le Mans but our combined zero emission on-demand electric/petrol power plant is quite a stunning piece of engineering.
Nissan will become the first major manufacturer to use a three-cylinder engine in major international motorsport. We’re aiming to maintain our position as industry leaders in focussing on downsizing. Lessons learned from the development of the engine will be seen in Nissan road cars of the future.
Our aim is to set new standards in efficiency in regards to every aspect of the car—powertrain, aerodynamics and handling. For the powertrain we have worked closely with the team at Total to not only reduce friction inside the engine, but within all components of the powertrain. Friction is the enemy of horsepower and tackling that has been one of the efficiency targets we have concentrated on heavily.—Darren Cox, Nissan’s Global Motorsport Director
After extensive dyno testing, the Nissan ZEOD RC hit the track for the first time last week with both the electric and internal combustion engines in place.
Both the gasoline and electric powerplants run through the same five-speed gearbox that transfers power to the ground via Michelin tires.
The Nissan ZEOD RC will undergo an extensive test program over the next four months prior to it making its race debut at this year’s Le Mans 24 Hours on June 14-15.