Infiniti concept headlines Nissan EV ambitions
At the Beijing Motor Show in April, Infiniti Motor Co. announced that it is developing an all-new electrified vehicle platform influenced by the Q Inspiration concept car shown earlier in the year at the 2018 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS).
Although the concept shown in Detroit was powered by parent Nissan’s breakthrough VC-Turbo technology, the world’s first production-ready variable compression ratio engine combining turbocharged gasoline power with the torque and efficiency of a hybrid or diesel engine, Infiniti also used the Beijing event to reconfirm its commitment to electrification. The Q Inspiration-based electrified vehicle will be one of five new vehicles it will build in China over the next five years.
“Infiniti is developing a new platform for electrified vehicles inspired by the Q Inspiration concept car, which shows the new design language for the age of autonomy and electrification,” said Infiniti Chairman and Global President Roland Krueger at a special Auto China preview event at the Infiniti Brand Experience Center in Beijing.
At the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit during the 2018 NAIAS, Nissan Chief Executive Officer Hiroto Saikawa said that Infiniti will introduce new vehicles with electrified powertrains from 2021. The brand’s new level of electrified driving performance is said to be an evolution of its current powertrains, and will offer a mix of pure electric and e-Power vehicles. The latter features a small gasoline engine that charges a high-output battery, eliminating the need for an external charging source and providing the convenience of refueling with gasoline while offering the same driving experience as a pure EV. Infiniti expects more than half its global sales to be comprised of electric vehicles by 2025.
The Q Inspiration is the first manifestation of Infiniti’s new form language for an era of advanced powertrains with its coupe-like appearance and elongated silhouette. “A shift towards smarter, more compact, and less intrusive powertrains,” said Karim Habib, Infiniti Executive Design Director, means the traditional sedan architecture could evolve with a relatively long cabin for greater passenger space.
The Q Inspiration’s cabin follows a minimalist approach, with wellbeing and relaxation at its core. Each passenger position has a touchscreen human-machine interface offering a meditation-regeneration mode that minimizes the level of information displayed. The car can also monitor passenger biometrics.
The concept features the next stage of development for the brand’s ProPilot autonomous drive technologies designed “to both empower and liberate drivers,” according to François Bancon, Vice President, Product and Programs. Drawing on inputs from radar and camera to read the road ahead and monitor the position of other vehicles, the system is designed to allow drivers to retain ultimate control over their vehicle, in keeping with brand’s focus on driver engagement. This version of ProPilot is designed to free drivers from mundane or stressful driving situations, providing autonomous multi-lane highway driving and intersection auto-navigation functionalities. These near-future technologies work alongside existing ProPilot Assist technologies, such as the capability to navigate stop-start highway traffic and monitor the positions of surrounding vehicles.
The Infiniti electrification message in Beijing also reinforced parent company Nissan’s overarching electrification strategy in China.
“As part of our effort to ensure sustainable growth in China, we’re launching a major EV technology effort, with Nissan Intelligent Mobility as our guiding vision,” said José Muñoz, Nissan’s Chief Performance Officer and Chairman of the Management Committee for China, in Beijing. “It speaks to our ambition to become China’s EV leader by delivering more than 20 electrified models over the next five years across the Nissan, Venucia, Infiniti, and Dongfeng automotive brands.”
Premiering at the show was the Sylphy Zero Emission, Nissan’s first mass-production electric car in China that shares a platform and technologies with the Leaf. It features fast-charging capabilities and a 338-km (210-mi) driving range according to Chinese official test procedures.
Also on display is Nissan’s e-Power electric powertrain technology, which will be introduced in China “within the next few years.”