By on April 5, 2012

Nissan waited until the second press day of the New York Auto Show. They did not want their all-electric Infiniti sedan to drown in the floods of other reveals. They should not have worried.

When the wraps came off what is still called an “LE Concept,” a stunningly styled sedan emerged. It has sexy curves similar to those of the Emerg-e range extender that was shown in Geneva. A car like this, backed by the production prowess of Japan’s second-largest automaker, should worry prospective producers of all-electric luxury sedans.

Nissan’s Leaf provides the electric Infiniti with the all-important economies of scale. However, Nissan’s “Division General Manager of Exploratory and Advanced Product,” Francois Bancon, denies hackneyed intimations that the LE will just be a rebodied Leaf:

The LE Concept is designed from the ground up as an Infiniti, not a re-badged Nissan. There will potentially be some shared components, but they will be configured specifically for use in the Infiniti EV.”

Range and performance are still kept under wraps.  “It will drive, feel and perform like an Infiniti,” says a sibylline Andy Palmer, who just recently was put in charge of the Nissan’s Global Infiniti unit. Name, production details, price are likewise kept secret.

Good looking as it is, this is not a show car. They call it a ‘production intent’ concept, a car they actually want to produce. Folks at Infiniti are positive that the yet unnamed electric Infiniti will be launched in 2014. Palmer says it is a global car that first “will be available in the U.S., Canada, and Europe.” He did not want to comment on China, understandable, given the in-flux state of Chinese production for Nissan’s luxury marque.

The LE will most likely be the first plug-in which you don’t have to plug in. In addition to a regular corded charger and a DC fast charge option, the LE can be charged without wires. Infiniti’s  U.S. VP Ben Poore explains:

“The LE Concept includes a built-in wireless charging system, we expect it to be the first home-based wireless charging system. All you have to do is park your vehicle over the charging pad with no need to connect cables.”

This is a truly exciting system: Through a coil in the garage floor, a magnetic field is created. This excites an electric current in a second coil in the LE, which then charges the batteries. Infiniti promises that the high-frequency charging is safe for children and pets, and can be installed easily in a home garage. The batteries will sit under the passenger compartment floor, delivering a low center of gravity, a lot of trunk space, and room for the high net-worth legs.

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15 Comments on “New York 2012: Infiniti Shows The First Plug-In Which You Don’t Have To Plug In Anymore...”

  • avatar

    Nice enough,but the back end reminds me of a Corolla somehow.

  • avatar

    I’m not crazy about that C-pillar, but overall I do like the styling: aggressive, but still without the excesses of some of the recent Hyundais. Can’t say much about EV or other technical aspects as Infiniti didn’t exactly provide much detail.

    Oh, yes — I assume this will be built in the US, then, based on Ghosn’s recent comments.

  • avatar

    Cool Sonata.

  • avatar

    This is a truly exciting system: Through a coil in garage floor, a magnetic field is created. This excites an electric current in a second coil in the LE, which the charges the batteries. Infiniti promises that the high-frequency charging is safe for children and pets, and can be installed easily in a home garage.

    I feel a great disturbance in the garage, as if millions of sperm cells suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.

    • 0 avatar
      Hildy Johnson

      No, this system uses no fluoride. And while we are at it, my exciting electric toothbrush uses the same charging mechanism.

      • 0 avatar

        I wonder if there are more losses with such a system. Can it be nearly as efficient as a plug? Not a big deal charging a toothbrush. Bigger deal with the amount of electricity a car will use.

        On the car: not remotely as attractive as the Tesla or Fisker Atlantic (which admittedly might never get produced).

      • 0 avatar

        Induction chargers do lose some efficiency, but it’s not horribly bad. MagneCharge was 86% efficient, and that was in 1998. I would like to know the specs on Nissan’s system here.

        And, yeah, not as good looking as Fisker, but then, what is?

      • 0 avatar

        I would have expected that this application of inductive charging would suffer due to the distance between the coils and the potential for poor alignment, but if this is the Plugless Power system, then they’re promising 90% efficiency from plug to car.

        I have a Palm Pre phone that has an inductive charging system, and the amount of heat generated during charging (when it works properly) is quite significant. I wonder if this car will run some sort of cooling system while charging that further reduces efficiency.

  • avatar

    I have an induction cooktop in the kitchen. It is truly awesome. However, I’m not worried about efficiency there as the difference between $0.01 and $0.015 to heat my dinner doesn’t bother me.

    But, from the Wikipedia entry on induction charging: “The main disadvantages of inductive charging are its lower efficiency and increased resistive heating in comparison to direct contact.” I assume the car is also carrying around an extra steel plate.

    However, induction charging would overcome my great fear of vehicles like the Prius plug-in: after the novelty wears off people won’t be bothered to plug it in to save $0.50.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah. Induction charging will be killer for opportunity charging – assuming this can do 6 kW, a 30 minute grocery shopping trip could put 10-12 miles back in the battery pack. Maybe you wouldn’t bother to plug in for a short stop.

      One problem with this is it will require chargers to be installed per parking space, instead of one charger being able to service two parking spaces. (This may not be so bad, since you can likely run one charger between pair of spaces and just run a pair of pads out to each space) It does prevent casual interruption of the charge (for example someone unplugging the car for whatever reason) and theft of the charging cable.

  • avatar

    i guess everytime when u park u need to move the charger on the floor to line up dead on with the car’s receiver coil.
    Nowadays using a laser alignment system is not all that difficult.
    I really cant comment on efficiency, as we all know hard wire is always the best.
    Now we’re talking about delivering 15 Amp at 110V or 1650 watts over thin air, some heat will get generated and parasitic loss?

    With the plug-ins is not exactly tin cables, is much more thicker than the handyman’s extension cable.

    Yrs ago I heard hermits living out in the boon docks get free electricity form these hydro lines, as the line carries 22,000 or much higher Voltage ( or there abouts ) All they need is some sort of pick up coil, as the AC current passing thru there will be some sort of magnetic field keep fluctuating at 60 Hz.

    Magnetic waves were supposed to be hard on us living creature, seems to be inconclusive with studies.
    Yrs ago I had this 1st gen Motorola cell phone, I always get a headache while using it. It turned out is not the phone but the freq of this particular Co. was assigned to. It was Jolly Rxgers in Canuckstan. Telus/ BC Tel, Fido both didnt cause any issue with me.

  • avatar

    LOL at the backwards hoffmeister kink.

  • avatar

    Lots of lost space with that dash board above the glove box. Dash boards are too deep these days.

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