Join the Club: Infiniti Becomes the Latest Automaker to Go 'Electric'

join the club infiniti becomes the latest automaker to go 8216 electric

There’s that misleading word again. At this week’s North American International Auto Show, Infiniti promised it would only field new products featuring some sort of electrified propulsion starting in 2021, thus joining half the automotive universe in promising an “electric” future.

In reality, this means each new model appearing after the target date will launch with at least a hybrid variant in tow. In Infiniti’s case, it means a handful of fully electric vehicles, plus the use of a novel Nissan technology that sees a gasoline engine running at all times.

Showing the inherent danger of the English language, Infiniti’s announcement claims “electric” vehicles will make up more than half of the brand’s global sales by 2025. A few paragraphs later, the promise switches to “electrified” vehicles. That’s enough semantics for now; take note that the latter statement is the correct one.

Infiniti’s promise comes as the automaker parades around its Q Inspiration concept vehicle (pictured above), a curvaceous midsize sedan that telegraphs Infiniti’s future design direction. Appearing under the Q Inspiration’s hood is the brand’s innovative VC-Turbo variable compression four-cylinder engine, bound first for the 2019 QX50 crossover. The compact engine apparently affords the car an airy cabin worthy of the full-size class.

Amazing — a futuristic concept car powered by gasoline. Sadly, this svelte, pillarless, rear-drive sedan, complete with knee-weakening suicide doors, is exactly the type of vaporware that never sees the light of a showroom. As well, the sedan segment’s Lusitania-like sales trajectory does nothing to alleviate our pessimism. It’s possible the future popularity of electric vehicles (still an uncertain thing) will make such a vehicle viable as a green luxury halo car, but time will tell.

Still, Infiniti’s Q Inspiration is more than just a range-topping concept. There’s a “proposed” platform beneath it, one that anticipates “the impending adoption of more advanced forms of propulsion,” Infiniti claims. The brand’s designer, Karim Habib, tells Autocar that an electric Q Inspiration variant is very doable.

The brand definitely needs new bones if it expects to package an electric motor and big battery pack into numerous new models. As for the “electrified” models, Infiniti’s tapping Nissan’s e-Power system for those.

e-Power involves a small gasoline engine — running at a set speed — that charges the battery powering the vehicle’s electric drive motor. The ICE and drive wheels never mix. It’s a fairly simple setup that offers fuel savings combined with the torquey, linear acceleration of an electric car, only with less cost and complexity than a traditional hybrid or plug-in hybrid. Indeed, the first e-Power vehicle offered for sale was the lowly, Japanese-market Nissan Versa Note.

[Image: Infiniti]

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  • Sportyaccordy Sportyaccordy on Jan 18, 2018

    I think sedans can recapture the market's attention but manufacturers are going to have to go all in on design and innovation. No more stodgy iterative write in nonsense. They have to start trying again.

  • Lorenzo Lorenzo on Jan 18, 2018

    Aren't front ends of cars supposed to be "pedestrian friendly"(or as friendly as getting hit by a car can be)? That front end looks like a combo wood-chipper/snowblower. How is that better than a cowcatcher that breaks your ankles and throws you into the windshield?

  • Arthur Dailey For the Hornet less expensive interior materials/finishings, decontent just a little, build it in North America and sell it for less and everyone should be happy with both the Dodge and the Alfa.
  • Bunkie I so wanted to love this car back in the day. At the time I owned a GT6+ and I was looking for something more modern. But, as they say, this car had *issues*. The first of which was the very high price premium for the V8. It was a several thousand dollar premium over the TR-7. The second was the absolutely awful fuel economy. That put me off the car and I bought a new RX-7 which, despite the thirsty rotary, still got better mileage and didn’t require premium fuel. I guess I wasn’t the only one who had this reaction because, two years later, I test-drove a leftover that had a $2,000 price cut. I don’t remember being impressed, the RX-7 had spoiled me with how easy it was to own. The TR-8 didn’t feel quick to me and it felt heavy. The first-gen RX was more in line with the idea of a light car that punched above its weight. I parted ways with both the GT6+ and the RX7 and, to this day, I miss them both.
  • Fred Where you going to build it? Even in Texas near Cat Springs they wanted to put up a country club for sport cars. People complained, mostly rich people who had weekend hobby farms. They said the noise would scare their cows. So they ended up in Dickinson, where they were more eager for development of any kind.
  • MaintenanceCosts I like the styling of this car inside and out, but not any of the powertrains. Give it the 4xe powertrain - or, better yet, a version of that powertrain with the 6-cylinder Hurricane - and I'd be very interested.
  • Daniel J I believe anyone, at any level, should get paid as much as the market will bear. Why should CEOs have capped salaries or compensation but middle management shouldn't? If companies support poor CEOs and poor CEOs keep getting rewarded, it's up to the consumer and investors to force that company to either get a better CEO or to reduce the salary of that CEO. What I find hilarious is that consumers will continue to support companies where the pay for the CEOs is very high. And the same people complain. I stopped buying from Amazon during the pandemic. Everyone happily buys from them but the CEO makes bank. Same way with Walmart and many other retailers. Tim Cook got 100m in compensation last year yet people line up to buy Iphones. People who complain and still buy the products must not really care that much.