The Japanese motor giant crafted the new engine using compression technology – allowing it a key advantage in the power vs efficiency stakes, as it can determine its own optimal compression ratio for combustion at any given moment.
This, in effect, offers it turbo-charged gasoline engine performance, with diesel and hybrid fuel economy and power. Until now hitting this level of performance has proved a stumbling block for the conventional gasoline engine.
As a possible automative technology game changer, Nissan’s new engine couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. The diesel engine sector has spent much of the year under a cloud created by the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal.
The German firm’s CEO has been among the high-profile departures, after it admitted to using secret software to cheat exhaust tests on diesels, which has affected millions of vehicles across the world and seriously tarnished VW’s trustworthy reputation.
Senior Nissan engineer Kinichi Tanuma acknowledges the timing of his company’s breakthrough. “Diesel engine is a hot topic globally. We believe this new engine of ours is an ultimate gasoline engine that could over time replace the (advanced) diesel engine of today,” he said.
Meanwhile Asia-Pacific managing director at IHS consultants, James Chao says: “Everyone's been working on variable compression and other technologies to significantly improve gasoline engine fuel economy ... at least for the last 20 years or so.
"Increasing the fuel efficiency of internal combustion engines is critical to automakers. Not all consumers will accept a battery electric vehicle solution. But significant challenges remain, such as increased complexity and cost, as well as potential vibration issues."
It is expected that September’s Paris Motor Show will provide the stage for Nissan’s launch of the Variable Compression-Turbo (VC-T) powertrain – before it is showcased in an Infiniti car next year.
It’s thought that the engine could eventually be employed across Nissan’s range, together with that of its alliance partner, Renault.