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Infiniti confirms 300kW electrified Q50

Charging ahead: The next-gen Q50 (current generation shown) is set to get an electrified powertrain, similar in concept to Nissan’s Note e-Power.

Series-hybrid without plug-in coming to an Infiniti showroom in 2021

Infiniti logo3 Apr 2018

INFINITI has confirmed that it will launch an electrified Q50 with performance to match its current 298kW 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol variant, and it will be timed to coincide with the next-generation sedan due in about 2021.

According to Infiniti Motor Company product strategy vice-president Francois Bancon, creating a battery-equipped model that can match the current Q50 Red Sport’s claimed 5.0-second 0-100km/h acceleration time has become a priority – more so than releasing a production version of the Q60 Project Black S, long mooted as a rival for the BMW M3/M4.

“It’s not a secret that we are investigating, only investigating, something in common with Renault Formula One as a kind of top performance car using Formula One technology which is hybrid,” Mr Bancon told GoAuto at the national media launch of the Infiniti QX80 last week.

“But this is still an investigation, we have to validate if it works. So I’m not telling you we are not thinking about it, but we have no short-term plans for this. This is not the highest priority for us at the moment. In this range of time I’m not sure four or five years, but in the next three years we have to shift our portfolio.

“The meaning for performance is not anymore just horsepower, 500 horsepower or 600 horsepower, or zero to 60 miles per hour. It is becoming a lot more sophisticated and this is where energy management comes to the table.

“And performance is a kind of balance now, in the future I hope, between of course a reasonable level of performance but also a sustainable system that takes care of energy and how you use energy.”



 center imageLeft: Infiniti Motor Company product strategy vice-president Francois Bancon

The performance thrust from a Q50 Red Sport replacement would come from an electric motor only, however a front-mounted internal combustion engine (ICE) would be used to recharge the battery pack supplying energy to the system.

While a series hybrid system is used in the BMW i3 and, previously, the Holden Volt, the Infiniti would not have a plug-in power point option.

It would also be very different from the current Q50 hybrid that blends a 3.5-litre naturally aspirated V6 engine in tandem with an electric motor booster, with the replacement series hybrid powered by a large electric motor and small ICE. And performance would instead match the petrol-only 3.0-litre twin-turbo version.

“The Q50, for example, today you have a V6 twin-turbo with 400hp (298kW), this is what people are used to and this is what the point is to deliver, this is our target,” Mr Bancon confirmed.

“Not so much to go crazy with 500hp or 600hp, but at least to keep our owners having the same performance. The number (298kW) is going to remain about something what we have today (and) we start with our first step of electrification about 2021, so it’s going to be plus/minus six months.”

Asked why the next-generation Q50 would not be available as a plug-in hybrid like virtually its entire competitive set, Mr Bancon replied: “I didn’t propose to go plug-in for this one reason, because with plug in-hybrid the biggest reason is most of the time people who have a plug-in hybrid never plug.

“And if you don’t plug you have the worst system in the world – heavy, ICE dependent, it’s the worst case.”

Mr Bancon described how, despite an owner therefore still having to refill an electric-powered Q50 with unleaded fuel, there were still significant cost and environmental savings to be found.

“The ICE charges the battery so (the efficiency) is quite good,” he said.

“I don’t know the (fuel consumption) number because we are still finalising, but it is good … for a very simple reason.

“When the internal combustion engine doesn’t run the car, you can decide the function (of the ICE), and say decide on constant 3000rpm, so the powertrain is super efficient because in this case it is just for charging.

“The only car we know is a Nissan car, it’s the e-Note in Japan, where we have this technology available, but of course with lower performance as a B-segment car and it has nothing to do with us. But the system is the same.”

Mr Bancon further added that Infiniti would not try to be all things to all people with its electrified powertrains, and it would choose to focus on performance over outright low fuel consumption.

“We have to be selective here,” he continued.

“I’m not pushing a strategy that says we are going with everything and you decide, because we can’t afford it, and on top of this I think it’s not the trend. We have to decide where we are and stick to what we want to deliver.”

The Q Inspiration Concept, shown at January’s Detroit motor show, was tagged as “previewing a new generation of Infiniti vehicles” including the next Q50, Q60 and Q70 set for a 2021 introduction (see separate story).

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