INFINITI may be known for larger than life SUVs that sport lower than average MPG efficiency, but it is at least starting to consider cracking the door open. What door? The door that leads into a future powered by electricity. A new release from INFINITY implies that the company does understand what is behind that door.
INFINITI will debut its vision for its first fully electric crossover at the North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, Michigan, next month, which might well explain the Nissan or INFINITI electric CUV notion we got a scoop about in October.
Vision vehicles are typically pre-concept vehicles that map out the larger styling and technology cues that will underpin future concept and production vehicles for a brand, much like BMW’s iNext does for the German automaker.
The vision vehicle will show off the new design language for the brand, which it will use as it turns the page into the new world of electric vehicles. Presumably, this vision for our electric future will have a special sprinkling of INFINITI’s Japanese DNA.
“The concept car we will show in Detroit is the beginning of a new era for INFINITI, and an illustration of where we want to go with the brand. Electrification and other new technologies have given us the opportunity to evolve our design philosophy,” said Karim Habib, executive design director of INFINITI.
There has been no progress towards electric vehicles for INFINITI to date, which stands in stark contrast with its partner in automotive crime, Nissan. Nissan took an early leap into electric vehicles, via the development of a low-cost electric vehicle for the masses in the LEAF. It also invested in battery technology with its stake in AESC. Similar to Tesla’s own battery arm, that was because there was no real EV battery market or production capacity when Nissan started serious work on the LEAF.
Hopes are high that INFINITI could actually be rounding the corner on the road towards an electrified future with the reveal of the new vision vehicle. The hope stems from the fact that the brand revealed in January 2018 that it would “electrify” its entire portfolio starting in 2021 and going forward. The broad term includes the use of its e-power hybrid powertrains and pure battery electric vehicle offerings. INFINITI and Nissan have thankfully not made much of a push into hydrogen fuel cell vehicles, so those dead-end vehicles are not included in the 2021 push into future clean technologies.
Leading up to the big reveal in Detroit next month, INFINITI revealed its Q Inspiration concept vehicle at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, which projected an aggressive design for the future of the brand. INFINITI also came to NAIAS in January with its Prototype 10 roadster. The Prototype 10 pulls those same aggressive styling cues down to a sporty two-seat roadster that just screams that it is from the future.
For next year’s NAIAS in January (just around the corner), INFINITI is aiming for the stars as it attempts to tease out the unique styling cues from these concepts into a unified vision vehicle. Switching to an electrified powertrain doesn’t just change what’s going on under the hood. It actually frees up new design options, as motors can be moved to the front or back or even into the wheels. Batteries similarly offer new flexibility, as their modular nature lets vehicle designers optimize the weight distribution in the vehicle.
“The industry is at a technological inflection point,” said Roland Krueger, chairman and global president of INFINITI Motor Co. “As such, INFINITI has a compelling vision as a luxury challenger brand to bring a full portfolio of beautifully-designed electric vehicles to customers around the world. We will focus on developing the full portfolio of e-power and EVs.”
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