Nissan’s new ZEOD RC Le Mans racecar will sport a unique turbocharged, direct-injected 1.5-liter 3-cylinder engine capable of 400 horsepower.
The car is designed so it can run a full lap under electric power before the gas-powered DIG-T R engine takes over. Incredibly small and lightweight at just 88 pounds, the engine could fit inside a suitcase. Nissan says it will rev to 7,500 rpm and dish out 380 Nm of torque (around 280 lb-ft), which is a comparable power-to-weight ratio as a F1 engine.
“Nissan will become the first major manufacturer to use a three-cylinder engine in major international motorsport,” says 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 power plant is quite a stunning piece of engineering.”
Nissan wants to enter the LM P1 class at Le Mans in 2015, and the lessons learned from this experimental vehicle — which will occupy “Garage 56” at the race — will be used in the development of that entry. The ZEOD, which stands for Zero Emissions on Demand, hit the track for the first time in mid-January, following extensive dyno testing for both the gas and electric motors. Both powerplants run through the same 5-speed transmission. The car doesn’t perform like a conventional hybrid vehicle with the electric motor taking over as needed. Instead, energy recaptured energy runs the electric motor for a full lap over the 8.47-mile Circuit de la Sarthe once during each fuel stint, which last about one hour. Top speed during the lap is expected to be over 180 mph.