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Infiniti Short-Circuits EV Plans, Puts Emphasis on Performance

New muscle line-up coming as battery-car delayed til end of decade.

by on Jan.14, 2014

Johan de Nysschen, Infiniti president, said the maker pulled the plug on its LE electric vehicle, focusing instead on vehicles like the Q50 Eau Rouge concept.

Forget battery cars. Infiniti has pulled the plug on its LE electric vehicle, shifting focus to high-performance models like the Q50 Eau Rouge Concept it debuted at this week’s North American International Auto Show.

While the Eau Rouge is, for now, just a concept vehicle, it won’t be for long, promised Johan de Nysschen, president of the Nissan luxury brand. Not only is Infiniti looking to develop a production model, but others that will flesh out the brand’s already expanding line-up.

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“Can this car be put into production? I absolutely insist,” said the South African-born executive who took over the Infiniti brand in late 2012. “But,” he quickly cautioned, “We have a lot of work to do.” (more…)

Cadillac ELR to Go on Sale in January

Caddy takes aim at Tesla in the premium battery-car market.

by on Oct.11, 2013

At $75,995 - before federal tax credits - the 2014 Cadillac ELR will cost nearly twice as much as the Chevrolet Volt.

Cadillac will begin offering its first battery-car, the plug-in 2014 ELR, in January.  Sharing the basic underpinnings of the more mainstream Chevrolet Volt, the Caddy ELR will test the waters for more up-market battery vehicles – and begin the General Motors’ promised campaign to “tackle” rival Tesla Motors.

At $75,995, including a $995 destination charge, the 2014 Cadillac ELR will cost nearly twice as much – before federal tax incentives — as the Chevy Volt which has undergone several price reductions this year in an effort to help spur lagging sales. Industry analysts have suggested that price, as much as limited range, is a major factor in the slow growth of the nascent battery-car market.

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Manufacturers have been rethinking strategy, looking at more upscale options in the hope that green-minded luxury buyers will be less sensitive to the price premium for battery technology.  With the exception of last month when the entire industry saw a sales dip, Tesla had largely defied the slump faced by most other battery-car manufacturers, its Model S sedan going for as much as $108,000 when fully loaded.

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Infiniti Delays LE Luxury Battery Car

Nissan division waiting for battery range, performance gains.

by on Jul.10, 2013

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn shown with the Infiniti LE battery-car concept.

Even as demand for its little Leaf battery-electric vehicle begins to gain momentum, Nissan has temporarily pulled the plug on plans to bring the Infiniti LE to market, though sources tell TheDetroitBureau.com that the luxury electric vehicle is still very much part of the maker’s mid-term plans.

The challenge, it seems, is to come up with the sort of improvements in range and performance – as well as the requisite upscale niceties, such as leather seats – that would make the Infiniti more than just a gussied-up Leaf. Nissan is also watching to see how the market responds to other luxury battery cars, notably including the new BMW “i” models, as well as the more expensive Tesla Model S.

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“The car is still planned but I don’t think we’re in any rush to bring the car to market,” said a ranking source closely connected to Nissan’s battery car program.

While he noted the growth of the overall market for electric propulsion, the source acknowledged it is not coming “as rapidly as we initially thought,” adding that “we need to get the mass market to grow before luxury buyers accept the technology.”

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Nissan Will Miss Leaf Sales Targets, Says Ghosn

Maker still upbeat about EV opportunities.

by on Nov.16, 2012

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn shown with the Infiniti LE battery-car concept.

A day after declaring Nissan’s commitment to automotive electrification, CEO Carlos Ghosn acknowledged the maker will fall short of its admittedly ambitious 2012 sales goals for the first of those battery cars, the Nissan Leaf.

After a sharp downturn early this year, however, sales of the mass-market electric vehicle took a sharp turn upward last month – and Nissan is expecting to see an even bigger shift in momentum when it opens its all-new U.S. battery car assembly line next month.

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Nonetheless, “The forecast we have given ourselves for the year will not be reached,” Ghosn acknowledged during an interview on Bloomberg Television.

The maker narrowly missed its goal last year, with U.S. sales of 9,679 Leaf battery cars, but it will fall even further behind for 2012. Through October, demand was down 15.6%, at 6,791 of the vehicles. But last month saw the first big surge of the month, sales climbing 86% to 1,579.

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Are Battery Car Sales Charging Up?

Chevy Volt to set a record in August

by on Aug.30, 2012

Chevrolet Volt sales are gaining momentum -- apparently driven by the 2013 model's ability to get an HOV-lane sticker in California.

With the second anniversary of the launch of two critical battery-electric vehicles fast approaching, many observers have been questioning whether the public has been turned off to the costly technology.  There’s no question that the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf got off to a slow start.  And, when you add in less advanced battery technology, namely gas-electric hybrids, demand has clearly slowed since fuel prices hit their April peak.

Yet, despite recent, largely negative headlines highlighting plant shutdowns, recalls and other setbacks, there are signs that battery car sales may be charging up, after all.

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Perhaps the biggest sign of a turnaround has come from Chevrolet which is reporting that it expects sales of the Volt to top 2,500 by the time it closes the books on August.  That would be a tripling of sales compared to year-earlier levels – and a 10% jump from Volt’s previous record, the 2,289 sold in March of this year.

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Former Audi Chief de Nysschen Sets Out to Reshape Infiniti

My goal is "unlock the potential of the brand," says new CEO.

by on Aug.22, 2012

Infiniti's new CEO, Johan de Nysschen will have the chance to completely reshape the brand.

More than two decades after its well-publicized debut, Infiniti remains a brand without a clear identity or well-defined mission.  But all that could soon change.

The Nissan luxury brand has moved its headquarters from Japan to Hong Kong and hired on long-time Audi executive Johan de Nysschen as it new global chief executive.  His challenge at Infiniti is not unlike what he faced at Audi, says the South African-born de Nysschen, taking an also-ran automaker and turning it a serious, top-tier contender.

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“My goal is to unlock the potential of this brand,” de Nysschen told TheDetroitBureau.com during an interview in Pebble Beach, California prior to the annual Concours d’Elegance.  “One of the things I bring to the table,” he added, “is I’m willing to challenge” the established order.

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Infiniti Cutting the Cord With Wireless Charging on LE Battery Car

Luxury alternative to Nissan Leaf due in 2014, maker reveals.

by on Aug.20, 2012

The Infiniti Emerg-E concept battery car makes it North American debut in Pebble Beach.

Infiniti will bring its first battery-electric luxury car to market sometime in 2014, the maker confirmed, with the prototype introducing a new charging system that will no longer require an owner to plug it into a wall charger.

In fact, the Infiniti LE will be able to park itself in precisely the right spot over the new induction charging system’s special mat, an executive told TheDetroitBureau.com.

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Meanwhile, the maker continues to study whether to add a second, even more sporty battery-car model to its line-up, one that would be based on the well-received Infiniti Emerg-E concept vehicle that made its splashy debut at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year.

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Dodge Dart Gets First Factory Wireless Charging System

Chevy, other makers plan to follow.

by on Apr.10, 2012

The new wireless charging system that will be offered on the 2013 Dodge Dart sedan.

This story was revised to correct details about the wireless charging system used in the Dart and by other manufacturers.

If you’ve ever tried to charge up your iPhone or MP3 player only to discover the wire is missing, Dodge has a neat solution it plans to introduce with the upcoming launch of the compact Dart sedan: a wireless charge pad.

The system is similar to devices such as the popular Powermat now available for home use.  And several aftermarket suppliers have been offering similar systems.  But Dodge will be the first to offer a factory wireless charging system – with several other makers, such as Chevrolet, ready to follow.

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Technically, the charging system isn’t exactly a factory system.  It’s being offered by Chrysler’s parts and service division, Mopar, and can be installed at the dealership or at home, note our friends at Autoblog.  But as it’s designed specifically for use in the new Dart, that’s a minor quibble.

“At Mopar, we look for every single opportunity to make our customers’ lives easier,” said Pietro Gorlier, President and CEO of Mopar, Chrysler Group LLC’s service, parts and customer-care brand. “Our industry-first in-vehicle wireless charging system is the perfect solution for those connected customers who are always on the go.”

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Infiniti Reveals LE Sporty Battery-Car Concept

“Luxury can be both desirable and sustainable,” says Ghosn.

by on Apr.05, 2012

Infiniti's LE battery car concept will reappear in production trim "within 24 months."

Following the lead of its mainstream sibling Nissan, the upscale Infiniti brand is about to charge into the battery-car market.

Confirming an earlier report on TheDetroitBureau.com, the Japanese maker unveiled its LE Concept battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, at the 2012 New York Auto Show, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn promising the production model will follow “within 24 months.”

Though the Infiniti LE is based on the same platform as the Nissan Leaf battery car it would be hard to tell at first glance.  The Infiniti model is lower, sleeker – and faster, “designed to stimulate,” not just transport, emphasized Ghosn, who proclaimed that with the upcoming addition to Infiniti’s line-up, the production LE will prove “luxury (can) be both desirable and sustainable.”

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The maker is holding back on many of the technical details but Ghosn said the concept is “85% accurate” to what the production LE should look like.  There will be relatively minor exterior changes, added Andy Palmer, Nissan’s corporate director of sustainable mobility, pointing to a grille that was clearly designed for the auto show rather than the showroom.

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