Back to Black: Infiniti's New Concept Is All About What's Under the Hood
Infiniti doesn’t want you to look at the Project Black S prototype and ooh and ah over its looks. It’s a Q60 with an aero makeover. No, Infiniti created the Project Black S as a technological showpiece, due to be revealed Monday in the periphery of the Paris auto show.
Beneath its hood is what Infiniti’s mulling for the sportier side of its electrified future. The prototype incorporates a hybrid system that finds energy at every turn — not just from regenerative braking, but exhaust gasses, too. While mashing the throttle of an internal combustion vehicle is hardly the greenest way to generate electricity, drivers looking for added boost likely won’t mind.
For this harbinger of hybrids to come, Infiniti adopted technology developed by the Renault Sport Formula One team. The “dual-hybrid” setup incorporates three motor-generators: one harvesting kinetic energy from braking, with two others drawing power from exhaust gasses generated by the twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6. Total output is 563 horsepower, Infiniti claims — or some 163 hp more than the stock engine.
By generating electricity during both braking and acceleration, the system maintains a healthy supply of battery-stored juice than can be used to exert extra force on the V6’s crankshaft during acceleration. Depending on the vehicle’s needs, the power generated can be used immediately for electric boost, or stored for later.
Infiniti dived into this further while detailing its partnership with the F1 team:
The Motor Generator Unit-Kinetic (MGU-K) is connected to the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine.
Under braking, the MGU-K operates as a generator, recovering some of the kinetic energy dissipated during braking. It converts this into electricity that can be deployed throughout the lap (limited to 120 kW or 160 hp by the rules).
Under acceleration, the MGU-K is powered from the battery and/or from the MGU-H and acts as a motor to propel the car.
The Motor Generator Unit-Heat (MGU-H) is connected to the turbocharger. Acting as a generator, it absorbs power from the turbine shaft to convert energy from the exhaust gasses that spin the impellor and shaft, allowing the compressor to generate energy.
The electrical energy can be directed either to the MGU-K or to the battery to be stored for later use. The MGU-H is also used to control the speed of the turbocharger to match the air requirement of the engine (e.g. to slow it down in place of a wastegate, or to accelerate it to compensate for turbo lag).
Infiniti plans to offer electrified versions of all new models starting in 2021, but this system’s complexity, and associated cost, relegates it to specialty automobiles. Less performance oriented models will adopt cost-effective Nissan’s e-Power setup, which sees an internal combustion engine running continuously at fixed RPMs to generate electricity for its traction motor.
“The Project Black S represents the very top end of electrification in the Alliance portfolio, and is another example of INFINITI’s entrepreneurial spirit on its journey to electrification from 2021 onward,” said Infiniti global president and chairman Roland Krueger.
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