Infiniti Unveils New 'Prototype' Concept at Pebble Beach
Last summer, Infiniti revealed an open-wheeled racer that merged the sex appeal of yesteryear with the electric powertrain of tomorrow. It was called the the Prototype 9 and it was stunningly beautiful. This summer, the brand attempted to repeat that success with the Prototype 10.
While the vintage maxim of “lightning never strikes the same place twice” isn’t scientifically accurate, it’s applicable here. Unveiled at this year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the Prototype 10 is a rehash. It’s another reimagining of mid-century racing, bestowed with an electric motor and some modern flair.
It’s an incredibly handsome automobile, but unnecessary, as it’s representative of absolutely nothing. Infiniti isn’t planning on building single-seat race cars and doesn’t appear prepared to jump into the mass assembly of high-performance EVs. This has been a problem with Infiniti for a while now. The company embraces forward-looking and completely fantastical concept vehicles at the expense of something that might enter into production within a few years. Ultimately, it feels like a wasted effort.
Before everyone points a finger our way and shouts that we’re engaging in hypocrisy for liking the Prototype 9 so much, allow us an opportunity to defend ourselves. Infiniti went to a lot of effort to explain the concept behind the car. While it may have only used the motor from the Nissan Leaf, it was ludicrously lightweight and appeared to have some seriously committed folks behind it. Infiniti hammered body panels into shape for hours and Infiniti made us believe it was a passion project for its staff. They wanted to do a garage build that merged old school-charm with new-school hardware. It wasn’t going to become a production model, but it at least felt authentic and showcased an overwhelming enthusiasm coming from the brand.
In addition to being too similar in concept, this is what the Prototype 10 lacks. Infiniti hasn’t even specified what would power the model. All we know is that, assuming something actually lurks beneath the sheetmetal, it doesn’t use liquid fuel. According to the automaker, the car previews the company’s electric car intentions as well as future design and styling cues. But where is one supposed to look for that?
While the overall shape is hugely pleasant, there are barely any details to draw from. Head and tail lamps are razor-thin slits, there’s no grille, and the only patterning that is transferable to a production car are the vertical slats appearing behind the driver’s seat (as electric motor cooling ducts). Unless these make their way to the front of subsequent vehicles — or they adopt the Prototype 10’s pointed nose, concave door panels, and rounded tail — there’s really nothing to see here.
The Q Inspiration Concept, unveiled in January, does have a few overlapping design elements. But Infiniti already confirmed it won’t ever see production. Instead, a new electrified vehicle platform “inspired by” it will launch sometime within the next five years.
After so many concept vehicles that seem incapable of gracing an assembly line, we’re left wondering if Infiniti’s design team is simply looking too far ahead, or if it has become bankrupt of executable ideas. We like a fantasy car just as much as the next enthusiast, but the Prototype 10, despite its attractive exterior, is redundant and wildly unrealistic.
If the brand has an electrified rework of a Porsche 962 or some other vintage racer in mind for the Prototype 11, we urge them to stop now. We don’t need another concept like this for a while.
You’ve done some beautiful work here, Infiniti. But it’s time to move on to something else.
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