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Prototype 10 hints at Infiniti’s EV future

Infiniti flexes electric vehicle design muscle with Prototype 10 speedster concept

Infiniti logo24 Aug 2018

INFINITI has used the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California this week to reveal an ultramodern Prototype 10 speedster concept, which the Japanese luxury marque says showcases the freedom of design afforded to its future electric-powered vehicles.
 
Infiniti executive design director Karim Habib – who oversaw the project, his first concept with the brand since leaving BMW in early 2017 – said the show car embodies the company’s electrified vision.
 
“Prototype 10 provides a link between where Infiniti stands now and where we are heading,” he said.
 
“For us, electrification means performance – our cars will be powerful, efficient and highly rewarding to drive, and Prototype 10 is a physical representation of our electrified future.”
 
No electric powertrain details have been revealed for the Prototype 10, with Infiniti instead reiterating its intent to offer electrification – including full-electric, plug-in hybrid and range-extender – in all new models from 2021.
 
However, the packaging of the powertrain gives the biggest clue to the technology that will underpin future electrified Infiniti models.
 
Built on a modular platform with a flat floor, the Prototype 10 positions the driver lower to the ground, while the architecture also allows EV powertrains to be packaged in “new and creative ways within chassis of all shapes and sizes – including sedans, SUVs and sportscars”, according to Infiniti.
 
Mr Habib said: “Electrification provides new opportunities for the design and layout of our cars.
 
“In accommodating batteries and electric motors, or employing smaller petrol engines, we aren’t bound by the same physical restrictions.
 
“Prototype 10 shows how an electrified powertrain could fit within a lean, lightweight and daring body, and this enabled us to rethink the fundamental layout of the car.”
 
The manufacturer claims that the Prototype 10 “hints at how Infiniti’s design teams will evolve and adapt the appearance of its production cars in future”, but the show car is about as far removed from a road-ready vehicle as can be.
 
Designed as a throwback to speedsters of yesteryear, the single-seat Prototype 10 ditches the windscreen, windows, side mirrors and doors for a pared-back, almost simple, aesthetic.
 
However, the near seamless bodywork, ultra-slim headlights and arch-filling wheels combine to modernise the Prototype 10. 
 
Infiniti says the clean, uninterrupted surfaces allude to the electrified powertrain, while the long bonnet, open cockpit and eye-catching driver’s seat fin hint at the Prototype 10’s performance intentions.
 
The cockpit mirrors the exterior’s theme of clean surfaces and flowing lines with a minimalist aesthetic.
 
With Infiniti’s steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering, no steering column is required, meaning the Prototype 10’s deep-dish steering wheel is mounted on carbon-fibre struts extruding from the bodywork.
 
In lieu of a passenger seat, a large vent directs air into the back of the Prototype 10 to cool the electric motor and batteries.
 
Mr Habib said last year’s Prototype 9 and this year’s Prototype 10 highlight Infiniti’s creative design process.
 
“For us, Prototype 9 evoked the thrill and drama of early open-wheeled racing, and Prototype 10 represents another passion project for our designers,” he said.
 
“This idea of ‘looking back to go forward’, and combining the inspiration of an earlier aesthetic with future technology, lets us show how excited we are about the era of electrification.
 
“Prototype 10 draws on some of the most iconic and evocative car designs of all time to illustrate this excitement.”

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