Infiniti’s new electric car (2012): all the latest news

Published: 30 July 2010

Within the next two years Infiniti will launch an electric vehicle based on Nissan’s Leaf. But it won’t just be a Nissan with a new nose; instead the Infiniti version will, according to the company’s project design director Takashi Nakajima, be a ‘luxury EV’ with completely unique styling and a performance boost to boot.

So what can we expect from the Infiniti EV?

Infiniti’s EV won’t just be a re-badged Leaf with an Infiniti grille, though it will borrow heavily from Nissan’s electric car beneath the skin. The styling will be unique, though Nissan and Infiniti design director Shiro Nakamura admitted the platform has its limitations. ‘The Leaf is not much different from a petrol-engined vehicle,’ he told CAR. ‘Only the grille is changed, but this is the first generation. The second and third generation EVs will give us much more freedom – their platforms will be much more unique. The first generation Infiniti EV is not very different [from conventional cars] though it must express Infiniti. It must be an Infiniti. It must create an emotional response.’

The new EV will feature familiar Infiniti design cues, like the double arch grille that’s also mirrored in the rear end styling treatment, and is also expected to use the Essence supercar concept’s kinked C-pillar graphic.

What bodystyle will the new Infiniti EV be?

Nakamura wouldn’t be drawn into admitting whether the Infiniti EV is a five-door hatch like the Leaf, a four-door saloon, or something sleeker. However, Infiniti is also planning a car to sit below the G range, Nakajima-san admitting the market is calling for more efficient vehicles and Nakamura-san proclaiming that ‘Infiniti must go down before it can go back’.

Other Nissan sources have admitted to CAR that the Leaf is a five-door hatchback because it was easier to package as an EV, even though the American market prefers saloons. But with a few years to go before the Infiniti’s launch, there’s still time to make adjustments and we expect the new Infiniti electric car to be sleek while the other small car will be more conventionally styled.

Infiniti’s electric car: the design story

CAR understands that the Infiniti battery electric car is currently at a phase that Nissan rather preposterously calls ‘Go to 3’, where the design proposals have been whittled down to just three options. Within the next six months the final design will be chosen, and a launch is expected within the next two years. The Infiniti EV will also be given a performance boost over the Leaf, and despite the absence of a petrol engine, Nakamura-san insists ‘we can offer excitement without sound’.

>> Will Infiniti’s electric car be the start of something exciting? Click ‘Add your comment’ and have your say

By Ben Pulman

CAR's editor-at-large, co-ordinator, tallboy

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