Nismo and Motul have a bond that has been inseparable for the last 15 years. But Nismo and Motul mean much more to each other than a sticker on an oil filler cap. Nismo is an iconic brand and has an amazing heritage and at Motul we are proud to say Nismo is our partner. It was therefore a great honour to sit down with Nismo CEO Takao Katagiri and learn all about the brand and its future.
The current Nissan GT-R Nismo is a car that has been in production for a very long time. How do you keep it fresh and innovative?
We have just released the 2020 version of the R35 GT-R Nismo, which introduced a lot of upgrades. Although the overall shape of the car hasn’t really changed much, the first iteration of this car couldn’t be more different from the current one. Everything is improved. It has become lighter, and the aerodynamics and engine have improved dramatically over the years. It’s the product of continuous evolution driven by innovation and competition with our rivals.
How much of the GT500 and GT3 race cars, which Nismo also builds, makes it into the road car?
A lot – sometimes directly, other times indirectly. A good example is the fact that the new 2020 GT-R Nismo uses the same turbochargers that are used in the GT3 race car, but it’s goes far beyond that. From a broader perspective there are many things we learn from motorsport that are applied in our road cars. For instance, when it comes to the GT500 engine. Due to the regulations, this car is forced to run a 2-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine. This is very interesting for us. The engine in the GT500 is internal combustion technology running at maximum efficiency. This engine will teach us more how to improve fuel-efficiency and reliability in our road-going engines. Another great example is the Italdesign GT-R50. The engine in this car is built by Nismo and, at 700 horsepower, it’s the most powerful GT-R engine in a new – albeit exclusive – road car.
As the head of a motorsports company, is there one moment that has really stuck with you?
I’ve been at the helm of Nismo for only 3.5 years now, but I’ve been with the Nissan group for over 30 years, so there are many memories. Although during my time here at Nismo I haven’t yet had the good fortune to celebrate a championship, I have had the pleasure of celebrating many wins and every single one of them has been a highlight for me personally.
With new technologies around the corner, where do you see the future for a company like Nismo?
Nismo is a strong part of the Nissan group and I’m sure that will continue for the foreseeable future. We are its unique motorsport subsidiary and at the forefront of developing new technology. We are already very active in electrification and we’ve entered the Formula E championship. We will be looking at challenging in future categories too.
What’s the dynamic of the partnership with Motul?
Nismo and Motul launched this synergy in 2003. The partnership with Motul is two-fold. On the one hand we have a very close partnership at the marketing level, and also a partnership at a technical level. The latter goes much deeper than you can see from the outside. A Nismo racing engine, at its core, has been developed with Motul engraved into its design. We have a line of communication with Motul’s R&D department that is constantly open, so we literally co-develop our products. That’s what makes this partnership so valuable to us.