Infiniti has a history of telegraphing its future with a series of intriguing auto show concept vehicles – and we can expect that to happen once again next month as it pulls the wraps off an electric crossover concept at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
The prototype will carry forward the striking and well-received Prototype 10 and Q Inspiration concepts the Japanese luxury brand unveiled over the past year. And it appears quite likely to tease not only an upcoming battery vehicle but an all-new EV architecture that will be used for a variety of future Infiniti models.
“The concept car we will show in Detroit is the beginning of a new era for Infiniti, and an illustration of where we want to go with the brand,” said Executive Design Director Karim Habib. “Electrification and other new technologies have given us the opportunity to evolve our design philosophy.”
It’s difficult to get a clear sense of exactly where Infiniti might take things but it’s certainly not the only automaker that sees electric drive technology transforming traditional automotive design rules. We’ve already seen a shift in direction with the new Jaguar I-Pace. With that model’s battery pack and motors mounted under its skateboard-like platform it allowed designers and engineers to move the SUV’s cab significantly further forward, for one thing, capturing space normally devoted to an internal combustion engine for a much larger interior. Infiniti’s teaser image suggests it is moving in a similar direction.
(Project Black S prototype shows Infiniti’s electric future. Click Here for the story.)
What we can tell is that the crossover adopts a coupe-like shape with a aggressive slope to the roofline and almost hidden rear doors.
As you’d expect of a high-tech concept vehicle, there are some futuristic touches and the Infiniti concept coming to NAIAS has both its badges and grille frame illuminated. It has massive wheels that would all but certainly be downsized in production.
Another high-tech feature comes with the use of sideview cameras paired, we assume, with video display screens inside the cabin. That concept has been around for decades and engineers and designers alike love the feature, in part, because it helps reduce aerodynamic drag.
But it’s not as futuristic a concept as you might think. Infiniti’s rival Lexus has just launched the technology as an option on the Japanese version of its latest ES sedan update. So far, sideview camera mirrors remain illegal in the U.S., but several manufacturers, including Tesla, have petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to revise its rules and that could follow within the next year or two, according to industry watchers.
(Click Here for details about our first drive in the Q60 Red Sport 400.)
Whether the Infiniti crossover concept coming to Detroit will prove to be a production model in disguise remains to be seen – though that has happened with a number of the brand’s prototypes throughout the years. That said, we can all but certainly expect to see the underlying platform reappear in production form as the luxury brand moves forward on its strategy to electrify virtually all of its line-up over the coming years – a strategy expected to cover plug-in hybrids as well as all-electric vehicles.
“Infiniti will have a specific focus on electrification,” parent company Nissan’s CEO Hiroto Saikawa said earlier this year, “We are trying to position Infiniti as the premier electrified brand” as part of the five-year Nissan business plan that will extend through 2022.
Nearly a decade ago, Infiniti planned to bring out what was essentially a high-line version of the Nissan Leaf. It killed that idea before reaching production. The new model will reflect a very different approach.
“For us, electrification means performance – our electrified cars will be powerful, efficient, and a joy to drive,” Habib said at a Pebble Beach preview of the Prototype 10 last summer.
(To see more about Infiniti’s “electrified” concepts, Click Here.)
That model offered what the designer called “a physical representation of our electrified performance future.” Expect the concept coming to Detroit to offer a similar look at Infiniti’s future.