Infiniti Offers a Look at its Electric Future

can be reached at pavel@aol.com
can be reached at pavel@aol.com
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Expect to see Infiniti roll out three new battery-electric vehicles over the next several years, new models based on the brand’s recent Q, Qs and QX Inspiration concept vehicles.

  • The new models will be offered with two distinctly different drivetrain options.
  • One will be pure electric, the other a variation of the range-extender approach used on the BMW i3RE.
  • The three models will pair twin electric motors, one on each axle, producing more than 500 hp combined.

The automaker will offer two distinctly different powertrain options for those who’d like to switch to battery power, including an all-electric system likely to deliver something on the order of 300 miles range. For those who don’t want to worry about having to charge up, meanwhile, the automaker is developing a second system that will use Infiniti’s unique Variable Compression-Turbo gas engine as an onboard generator.

During a background briefing at America’s Spaceport – where Virgin Galactic hopes to begin launching sub-orbital tourist flights next year, Infiniti officials briefed a handful of reporters on their new electrification strategy which, said Tim Franklin, director of product planning for Infiniti Americas, “will reach our dealerships in production form in the near future.”

The number of long-range battery-electric vehicles coming to market is beginning to accelerate. We’ve already seen offerings from Hyundai, Jaguar and Audi, with Ford, Volkswagen, Porsche and others set to follow over the next 12 months. The emphasis is on the luxury segment, and for several reasons. High-line buyers are more willing to pay a premium, especially in light of the performance that electric motors can deliver.

Infiniti Qs Inspiration
The second of the three battery-electric cars will be based on the Infiniti Qs Inspiration concept. (Photo: Infiniti)

The upcoming Infiniti EVs will use a pair of motors, one on each axles and “We’re looking at up to 320 kilowatts,” said Franklin, or about 429 hp in combined power.

But while all three of the new EVs will derive power solely from their electric motors, they will use two distinct sources to get that energy:

  • One version will be pure electric, using lithium-ion batteries. The target range is around 300 miles per charge, said Franklin, which would appear to call for something on the order of 80 to 100 kWh, though Infiniti could follow Tesla’s lead and offer different battery pack options;
  • The second approach pairs a small, 5-kWh battery pack with a 1.5-liter VC-Turbo engine that will serve only as a generator. But unlike a plug-in hybrid, motorists won’t externally charge this system. And unlike range-extended EVs like the BMW i3RE, it will seldom run on pure battery power.

Infiniti has yet to come up with a name for the second system – though sibling brand Nissan is calling its version “e-Power.” The high-line brand plans to “encapsulate” the VC-Turbo engine to make it all but totally silent.

Final details of that package haven’t been worked out. It’s possible Infiniti may opt for a larger battery pack that would allow a vehicle to travel short distances in pure electric mode. That could prove essential in some global markets where cities such as London, Paris and Beijing are considering new rules that would allow only vehicles operating in zero-emissions mode to enter central urban areas.

Infiniti Q and Qs Inspiration concepts
Concept BEVs from Infiniti at Spaceport. (Photo: Infiniti)

Like key competitors, such as Tesla, Jaguar and Audi, the production versions of the Q, Qs and QX Inspiration concepts will have batteries and motors mounted underneath their floorboards. This skateboard-like platform will allow the automaker to repurpose some of the space normally devoted to an engine compartment, delivering what it describes as a “lounge-like interior” larger than what the exterior footprint might suggest.

As for design, the three models will retain the distinctively edgy, origami-style exteriors first seen on the three concepts, with “technical ‘kimono fold’ patterns, inspired by the straight lines that typify modern Japanese architecture.”

Precise timing has yet to be announced, but the first of the new Infiniti EVs should reach U.S. showrooms in the next couple years, company officials hinted.

WHY THIS MATTERS

Infiniti will join an increasingly crowded market for battery-electric vehicles and hopes to offer two distinctly different technical approached that could broaden the appeal of its new models.


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can be reached at pavel@aol.com
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