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Nissan Q Inspiration Is Not Electric, But Wows In Detroit Anyway

The Infiniti Q Inspiration makes bold promises on the outside, but beneath its swoopy exterior. it fails to deliver the goods.

Our colleague Jo Borras raised the curtain on the Infiniti Q Concept a few days ago. It is a luscious looking piece of automotive sculpture but until now, few details were known about the machinery lurking beneath its curvaceous exterior. This week, the Infiniti Q has been lighting up the Nissan display at the Detroit Auto Show and some of those details have been filled in. First, let’s do the B roll on the Q.

Infiniti Q Inspirations

There’s no question the car is a looker, and that in and of itself guarantees people will buy it when and if it ever goes into production. If you look at the overhead view and see more than a hint of the Tesla Model S, you would not be wrong. The Model S design has more than passed the test of time. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and the Infiniti Q Inspiration flatters the heck out of the Tesla.

While some have speculated the Q Inspiration is an electric car, based on the fact that it has no traditional grille and no tailpipes visible, the reality is somewhat of a letdown. Infiniti says the car actually has an internal combustion engine under the hood, albeit not a conventional one. Nissan’s VC-T engine features variable compression and a turbocharger.

The combination is said to be 27% more fuel efficient than the silky smooth V-6 engine that has been a Nissan and Infiniti staple for two decades. The VC-T will replace the V-6 in most Nissan offerings in the future, beginning with the Infiniti QX50 SUV that goes on sale later this year. “We believe this new engine of ours is an ultimate gasoline engine that could over time replace the diesel engine of today,” says Kinichi Tanuma, a senior Nissan engineer in charge of development for the Infiniti brand.

The Q Inspiration is chock-a-block full of technological wizardry, including Nissan’s new ProPilot almost fully autonomous self driving software. The presence of the gasoline engine is a downer for a car that holds so much promise on the outside, but as The Verge puts it, “On the bright side, the fact that this thing isn’t an electric or hybrid car probably increases its chances of eventually getting made.”

Nissan could have at least made the Q Inspiration a plug-in hybrid, but the reality is that automakers still need to make and sell lots of automobiles to stay in business. The styling of the concept is promising. Perhaps the good stuff EV fans crave is waiting somewhere in the wings. Patience, grasshopper.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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