NISMO President Shoichi Miyatani holding the 88-pound/400-horsepower 1.5-liter three-cylinder race engineBack in 2012, Ford packed its tiny 1.0-liter EcoBoost three-cylinder in a carry-on suitcase, destined for use in the Fiesta here in the US. In June, Nissan will pack its tiny new three-cylinder engine in a 24 Hours of Le Mans racecar. Nissan's don't-call-me-DeltaWing ZEOD RC racecar will still be able to tackle a single lap under full electric power, but the rest of the time it will be powered by the new 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine.

Holding the lightweight engine (at right) is Nismo president Shoichi Miyatani, and he's likely smiling because that 40-kilogram (88-pound) engine packs quite a punch with 400 horsepower and 280 pound-feet of torque. Nissan would like to take a moment to point out this engine's power-to-weight is better than the engines currently used in Formula One racecars. Scroll down for more information on this new race engine, which we'll see in action at Le Mans in June.
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Nissan Unveils Revolutionary Engine to Complement Electric ZEOD RC Powerplant

-1.5-liter three-cylinder turbo produces 400 horsepower from a 40kg engine
-More power per kilo than a Formula 1 engine
-New technical partnership with Total lubricants revealed

LONDON – Nissan will not only break new ground with the unique electric power plant aboard the Nissan ZEOD RC at Le Mans this year, but the accompanying internal combustion engine is set to revolutionize standards of performance and efficiency.

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.

The incredibly small engine weighs only 40 kilograms (88 pounds) but produces an astonishing 400 horsepower. The base engine is only 500 mm tall x 400 mm long x 200 mm wide (19.68" x 15.74" x 7.78"). While the engine is technically too heavy to take as carry-on luggage on a plane, it would easily fit inside the luggage guides seen at major airports around the world.

Revving to 7,500 rpm, the Nissan DIG-T R produces 380 Nm of torque. At a ratio of 10 horsepower per kilogram, the new engine actually 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 focusing 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 maximize 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 and ground breaking technologies never previously seen at the classic French endurance event.

Lessons learned from the development of the revolutionary 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," said Darren Cox, Nissan's Global Motorsport Director. "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 powerplant 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 focusing 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."

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.

"Being chosen by a car manufacturer as a technological partner to achieve a demonstration of innovation is always a source of pride, especially on this legendary race – 24 Hours of Le Mans. It drives our researchers to find solutions and get the most out of the technical specifications as well as the fuel economy properties that our TOTAL QUARTZ lubricants range provides to all passengers cars," said Philippe Girard, Scientific Delegate for Total.

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.


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  • 98 Comments
      Mike Smith
      • 10 Months Ago
      Nismo IDX and/or next gen Fairlady (Z), thanks in advance!
      jodie88
      • 10 Months Ago
      I like it... ok so its not a ridiculous rally engine or F1 engine but it has its merits. - Very lightweight - Advanced materials - Appears to be a simple design - Designed with efficiency and endurance in mind (name of the game in le mans) I can see this eventually trickling down into some of their consumer options... which remember is the *real point of this type of car racing. Stock car racing might be about letting Jimbo go REAL FAST!! But Le Mans is about technical innovation through motorsports... at least thats my take and explains why manufacturers sink in millions for racing development.
      BipDBo
      • 10 Months Ago
      I'd like to know more about the drivetrain configuration. The claim that it can do the first lap in EV mode only makes me think that this is a series hybrid car. Could this engine be part of a constant speed, 500 kw generator? That would imply that the EV motors put out a bit more power than that, perhaps in the 600-800 hp range. If it's a parallel hybrid somehow, then the total peak output, with both the engine and the motors sending power to the wheels, is also going to be a lot more than 400 hp. The Deltawing had merely 300 hp and it did very well as long as it stayed on the road. Either way, with great aero, weight distribution and torque vectoring, this thing is going to be seriously quick.
      James Scott
      • 10 Months Ago
      Real question is, how much is it and where can I buy one? I would want to cram this inside a Lotus 7 replica like a Caterham.
      chanonissan
      • 10 Months Ago
      @Aaronm_mt "Not very impressive for a racing engine. Back in the 1980's, Honda 1.5 turbo racing engine was putting out around 1000-1500hp." How can you compare a 1.5 V6 engine to a 1.5 3 cylinder engine
      Philthy
      • 10 Months Ago
      I'm more impressed by Nissan's photoshopping skills than anything else. http://f.cl.ly/items/0o2M2n3227091v1b1a2a/Miyatani-ZEOD-Engine-For-Print-001.jpg
      Scott
      • 10 Months Ago
      But Nissan will put it in with a CVT and it will make a lot of noise and go absolutely no where.
      muspod
      • 10 Months Ago
      Now make a Q50 with it in it.
      Goggles Pisano
      • 10 Months Ago
      BMW made a 1500hp 1.5 litre Turbo in the '80's.
        Macky
        • 10 Months Ago
        @Goggles Pisano
        That was with a pneumatic valve system. I assume this has valve springs. That severely limits RPM, which allowed F1 engines to do their thing.
      K
      • 10 Months Ago
      put it in a skyline or 350 (or in this case 1.5) z then we will talk.
      bK
      • 10 Months Ago
      Yes please
      bullitt2605
      • 10 Months Ago
      Now if only it came as a diesel and with a wagon body. Sorry just had to.
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