It’s been nearly a decade since Infiniti first promised to bring a battery-electric vehicle into its line-up, the automaker quickly deciding not to go with a gussied-up version of the decidedly down-market Leaf sold by parent brand Nissan.
With Infiniti now trying to plug back in and promising that it will electrify virtually everything in its line-up by 2021, you can expect to get a good idea of what’s coming with the QX Inspiration Concept making its debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
“The Infiniti QX Inspiration marks the beginning of a new generation of Infiniti cars and establishes a direct blueprint for the brand’s first electric vehicle,” said Christian Meunier, the luxury brand’s new president and chairman. “Based on a new, dedicated electric vehicle architecture and inspired by Infiniti’s Japanese DNA, the SUV concept previews a product portfolio which will offer high performance, ultra-low emissions and range confidence.”
The QX Inspiration comes a year after Infiniti’s first tease of its new direction with the Q Inspiration that debuted at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show. At the time, the automaker offered only some hints about what was under the prototype’s hood, suggesting it could be a pure battery-electric vehicle, or BEV, or could be fitted with a plug-in hybrid drive possibly using Nissan’s new VC-T engine. That powertrain is the world’s first to be able to constantly adjust its compression ratio to deliver the desired balance of performance, emissions and fuel economy.
(Infiniti aims to electrify with QX Inspiration battery-car concept. Click Here for the story.)
The QX Inspiration uses an all-electric drivetrain, according to Infiniti, though it is not offering specific details at this point. It would surprise few if the skateboard-like platform in the show car bears strong similarities to the one underlying the Nissan IMs concept also making its debut at NAIAS. That design places the lithium-ion battery pack, motors and other key components under the vehicle’s load floor. In the case of the IMs, it carries 115 kilowatt-hours of energy, enough to yield about 380 miles of range.
Lifting a page from the Tesla handbook, Infiniti is putting as much emphasis on performance as range, suggesting the QX Inspiration would be able to deliver plenty of “instantaneous” torque and “blistering off-the-line acceleration.” Electric motors make virtually 100% of peak torque the moment they start turning, which is why they can handily match the launch feel of a muscle car.
The low center of gravity created by the skateboard layout also improves handling and the QX Inspiration would enhance torque by sending power to all four wheels, according to Infiniti.
The design of the QX Inspiration puts an emphasis on straight lines and crisp creases, balanced by what the company calls “organic shapes.” Perhaps more significantly, the design team has been able to take advantage of the powertrain layout. With no engine up front, it can reclaim much of the space that would normally use and devote it to a larger passenger compartment.
This cab-forward approach comes in sharp contrast to some of the Infiniti brand’s most distinctive gas-powered utility vehicles, such as the FX.
(Click Here for more about Infiniti’s electric crossover tease.)
Meanwhile, the nose of the QX, with no need to flood air into the engine compartment, adapts a new look, with a smooth surface where the grille would otherwise go. An illuminated Infiniti logo is framed by channels meant to carefully flow air over the vehicle to reduce wind drag. They’re framed by thin strips of headlights.
“The decision to electrify the Infiniti range was an inflection point for our brand,” said Alfonso Albaisa, the marque’s chief designer. “We started to understand the potential of new architectures and technologies and how they could influence a change in how we design our cars.”
Inside, the QX Inspiration is designed to look more like a mobile lounge than a traditional luxury car. A widescreen monitor, flowing across the entire instrument panel, dominates the cabin. With no transmission tunnel, the cabin features a flat floor and the headliner adopts a louvered timber effect by using sugi, or Japanese red wood.
“There’s a very natural coalescence of technology and hospitality in Japan, and this is something very appropriate for Infiniti,” said designer Karim Habib. “We want the technology in our vehicles to create an experience that seamlessly enables and enhances the drive, while also making life comfortable and natural.”
(To see more about Infiniti’s “electrified” concepts, Click Here.)
While the QX Inspiration isn’t expected to go into production, the new design is likely to have a strong influence on vehicles the brand will bring to market in the coming decade, according to Infiniti sources, much as the IMs is an indicator of what’s coming from Nissan.