Nissan Motor Company is better known for its four-wheeled vehicle pursuits, so it might surprise you to see its name mentioned here on Asphalt & Rubber. To front load the answer to your most pressing question, no the Japanese marque is not getting into the two-wheeled universe.
However, Nissan has been doing some interesting work, ever since it took over the DeltaWing project. In a nutshell, the Nissan DeltaWing was a failed IndyCar replacement race car project that aimed to push the boundaries of light, aerodynamical, and efficient vehicle design.
It found new legs in the endurance racing arena though, and participated in the 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans — however it didn’t finish the iconic race, when a competitor crashed into it 75 laps into the race.
Nissan and the DeltaWing team have since parted ways collaboratively, but the Japanese car maker has clearly learned something from the process. Returning to Le Mans for the 2014 season, Nissan will field a very similar design, which it has dubbed the Nissan ZEOD RC.
A hybrid race car (Nissan hopes to complete its first lap at Le Mans solely on electric battery power), what tickles our fancy most is the 1.5 liter three-cylinder turbocharged engine, which weighs a featherlight 88 pounds. Twenty inches tall, eight inches wide, the Nissan DIG-T R engine is small, though mighty. How does 400hp grab you?
In terms of power per cubic centimeter, the DIG-T R rises to the top-end of the MotoGP engine spectrum, where one-liter four-cylinder engines make near 260hp at the crank. Nissan of course has the advantage of forced induction, but you still have to appreciate 400hp in such a small form factor.
It will never happen, but we would love to see what a good chassis company like Bimota could do with such a lump at the their disposal…actually, maybe not.
The ideas here are sound though, and with the current trend of OEMs exploring the use of forced induction for motorcycles, maybe something similar will come to the two-wheeled world. Hey, there’s nothing stopping us from dreaming. We now return you to your regularly scheduled two-wheel programing.