Monday, February 11, 2013
Next-Gen Nissan GT-R May Go Hybrid
Current Godzilla Likely to Last Until 2017
The 2014 Nissan GT-R represents the fifth revision of the R35 series GT-R since its launch. We hear that at least two more updates to the present Godzilla are in the works and that the R35 will live on until at least 2015, though our source says it could be around until as late as 2017. The extended timeframe could be good news, as we've heard that Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn only recently lit the green light to begin development of a new GT-R. So what's next? Let the speculation begin! The most significant changes to the new GT-R will most likely be to its exterior design and engine. As you can see from this artist's impression the next GT-R, the basic proportions should remain the same, while the headlights and aerodynamic package are likely to receive a big makeover in an effort to further maximize downforce and high-speed stability.
Like all automakers, Nissan is staring down the barrel of ever more stringent U.S. and European emissions regulations that will force it to continue to reduce CO2 output and improve fuel economy. According to our source, that means the next GT-R may have to employ "some electronic device" to help boost Godzilla's mpg numbers. Nissan reportedly is looking at two potential options. The first is some kind of hybrid system. One possible future hint was the hybridized (and downsized to 3.7 liters) VR38DETT fitted to the Infiniti Essence concept car first seen at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show that produced an estimated 600 combined horsepower, though our source stresses that the Essence is not the next GT-R. Engineers are also evaluating a hybrid system similar to that of the Infiniti M35h. However, adding a hybrid system means bulking up the GT-R's already substantial weight with motors and batteries, so unless designers can shave some 400 pounds off of the current car, a hybrid GT-R is likely to be problematic.
The second option is a "turbo compressor and generator setup" still in the testing stages. Seen as a mere "assist" device for the current powertrain, a newly fitted drive motor could be designed to slot right inside the car's rear transaxle. "The GT-R would also have to employ a start-stop device as well as cylinder deactivation technology to get CO2 down," says our insider.
Chief engineer Kazutoshi Mizuno hinted at a possible date for the next generation's debut when he said his team's entry in this year's Nurburgring 24-hour race was to ensure the car had the performance, reliability, and endurance capabilities to "take the car up to 2017, when you can expect significant revisions." As we left the circuit, Mizuno hinted that he and his team were already working on the next generation GT-R. But it was one of his talented younger cohorts who nodded a silent "yeah" when we suggested the next-generation coupe would be a hybrid. So, if nods are to be believed, then the all-important weight issue seems to have been solved. Now that's good news.