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Nissan's mighty 1.5: 40kg, 300kW!

2014-01-28 08:51

GROUND BREAKING: Nissan has built a new compact engine, weighing only 40kg, for the Zeod RC petrol/electric supercar to race in the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours in June. Image: Newspress

• 1.5 litre three-cylinder turbo produces 300kW
• Weighs only 40kg; more power/kg than an F1 engine
• New technical partnership with Total lubricants revealed

London - Nissan is breaking ground with its unique electric "power unit" aboard the Nissan Zeod that's scheduled for the 2014 endurance race.

The internal combustion engine will in June revolutionise standards of performance and efficiency, says Nissan. The Zeod RC will be the first entry at Le Mans to complete a lap of the Circuit de la Sarthe under nothing but battery power.


The automaker says a single lap of each stint (a fuel “stint” lasts about an hour) will be on batteries then the new Nissan DIG-T R 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo engine will take over. The incredibly small engine weighs only 40kg but produces an astonishing 300kW.

The basic engine is only 500mm high, 400mm wise and 200mm from front to rear. The engine is too heavy to take as carry-on luggage on a plane but it would easily fit inside an overhead luggage bin.

Nissan says the DIG-T R produces 380Nm of torque and revs to 7500. At a ratio of 7.5kW/kilogram the new engine actually has a better power-to-weight ratio than the new V6 engines to be used in the 2014 Formula 1 season.


The Zeod RC will occupy “Garage 56” at the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours, an additional entry reserved by the Automobile Club of the West for new and ground-breaking technologies not seen at the classic French endurance event.

Nissan’s global motorsport director Darren Cox said: “Our engine team has done a truly remarkable job with the internal combustion engine. We knew the electric component of the Zeod RC was certainly going to turn heads at Le Mans but our combined zero emissions on-demand electric/petrol power unit is quite a stunning piece of engineering.

“Nissan will become the first major manufacturer to use a three-cylinder engine in major international motorsport. Lessons learned from the development of the engine will be seen in our road cars of the future.”


The automaker said the car was on the track earlier in January after extensive dyno testing with both the electric and internal combustion engines in place. Both the petrol and electric units run through the same five-speed gearbox that transfers power to the ground via Michelin tyres.

The Zeod RC will undergo an extensive test programme over the coming four months before its race debut at the 2014 Le Mans 24 Hours over June 14/15.
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