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Infiniti teases range-extender sportscar

Mid-engined sports EV takes shape as Infiniti embraces electrification

Infiniti logo21 Nov 2011

By HAITHAM RAZAGUI

INFINITI used the recent Los Angeles motor show to issue two teaser images of an electric range-extender sportscar concept as preparations gather pace for its world debut at Geneva next March.

The computer-rendered images appear to confirm rumours the concept will be mid-engined, with what could be an engine cover carrying the Infiniti logo visible through the rear windscreen and air vents located between the rear guards and deck-lid.

Some elements of the design echo Infiniti’s 2009 Essence hybrid coupe concept, especially the shape of the new concept’s side windows and the curve of its haunches, but the bonnet is far shorter – again pointing to a mid-engine layout.

Nissan’s luxury brand promises low emissions and high performance from the “highly advanced” car, with styling described by Infiniti executive vice president Andy Palmer as defining “what Infiniti will be next, next generation”.

“At the Geneva show next year, we will present our vision for a totally new kind of inspired premium performance car,” he said.

Speaking in a video about the concept, Mr Palmer hinted that more details about the car will emerge before next year’s Geneva debut.

“We will have some time between now and (Geneva) to update a little bit about the story, tell a little about the tales behind the development.”

Infiniti, which already produces a hybrid version of its 5 Series-sized M sedan, will be able to tap into proven EV technology from its parent company’s battery-powered Leaf hatch.

Potentially presenting Infiniti with a template on which to build its concept is the track-ready Nismo Leaf RC, which was unveiled at the New York motor show in April sporting a mid-mounted electric drivetrain within its carbon-fibre monocoque body.

F1 team Red Bull Racing, of which Infiniti is a sponsor, could also be involved in the car’s development, having already expressed its intention to move into working with road cars.

The first example of Red Bull/Infiniti collaboration was the Sebastian Vettel-fettled FX SUV that debuted at Frankfurt and is now confirmed for limited production.

Alongside development for the range-extender sportscar, Infiniti is also working on a luxury five-seat pure EV.

Infiniti has so far released two sketches but precious little information on the luxury EV, but its Australian division has already declared it is keen to bring the car to Australia following its local launch late next year.

Mr Palmer said that, with hybrids and diesels already on sale plus the aforementioned EV project in progress, “the natural next step was to push the boundaries where performance and the environment intersect.”

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