"There absolutely will be EVs in Infiniti's future" - Johan de Nysschen

Despite being closely connected to the electric vehicle pioneers at Nissan, Infiniti is taking the slow road to bringing an EV to market. Last month, the first Infiniti EV – to be based on the LE concept from the 2012 New York Auto Show – was delayed to add better tech. Infiniti president Johan De Nysschen wants to make it perfectly clear that this delay is both intentional and in no way a cancellation.

Speaking with AutoblogGreen at a media event in Newport Beach, California this week, de Nysschen was blunt: "First and foremost, I simply must state that there absolutely will be EVs in Infiniti's future." The first Infiniti EV was delayed, in part, to give the brand room to grow in all directions. De Nysschen, who took over Infiniti in June of 2012, told us:

We have a massive journey ahead of us. We have to diversify our product portfolio, we have to enter a bunch of new market segments, we have to enter new geographies, we have to invest in new production capacity. And all of these things together amount to a massive investment in the brand. When it comes to EVs, that is another area that would require very huge investments and it is simply, for us, balancing the investment amounts with the short-, medium- and long-term profitability requirements and the role that all these various cars will play as we shape and reposition the brand.

As Infiniti gets ready to become a global player, one thing company representatives made clear is that the big goal, a plug-in car, is not at the top of the "To do" list. It's on there, sure, but not what's driving the company in 2013. Plus, as de Nysschen said, when the Infiniti EV arrives, it must have the latest and greatest tech.

Infiniti LE electric vehicle - front three-quarter view at 2012 NY Auto Show

Specifically, he said:

People speak of a delay to our EV plans, primarily this has been driven by the reality that we know that there is work being done on the evolution – it's not a breakthrough, it's an evolution – of battery technology which will yield higher performance and new technology will also bring cost advantages. It stands to reason to me that if we are planning a new Infiniti EV, that we should hold on until we can incorporate those improvements into the new product. It would make little sense to start production of the car just as these new technologies emerge.

Of course, technology will always be advancing, so an argument that says you need to have the absolute best tech in a new car effectively means that the vehicle will never arrive. De Nysschen said that's not the goal here. "I don't think that we've called for a delay for the car for five years, it is a relatively short delay and we will make a decision on the next step on this car in the next 12 months," he said. What that decision will be is hinted at by one country: China.

De Nysschen said Infiniti knows that hybrids are important in the American market and diesels in Europe. "When we cast our eye now to China, this is where we see the likelihood that EVs will play a role. Since we intend to be a player there, that is yet another reason that it is logical that EVs will be a part of our line up in the future." And it's the future that de Nysschen is getting ready for. He sees the EV market evolving this way:

I think that the EV evolution will probably take place from two opposite poles. On the one end, you will find vehicles that use EV technology at a lower level of technology and a lower performance parameters, but a lower price point. These vehicles will primarily be for commuting. The opposite pole is where you will find the real technological advancements. People are going to embrace the high cost of these innovative new technologies and they are going to offset these high costs and recoup it by wrapping it in a very emotional body, which has intangible value, which customers are willing to pay for. Over time, we are talking 20-25 years, as you progress and you get the cost of the technologies down and you can begin to transfer them to the lower end, you get the convergence. If anybody thinks that EVs are going to dominate the market within the next three years, that's wrong. It will take many years before they take a leading role and replace the internal combustion engine as the primary source of power.

Still, we were curious: will we see the first production Infiniti electric vehicle in the next three years? "I think that would be a logical time frame," he replied.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 42 Comments
      789dm
      • 1 Year Ago
      Bla..bla..bla.. big companies cannot act fast. So how come Tesla can do it? Playing catching game now?
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @789dm
        It took Tesla years as well. They've been around for 10 years and they just released their second car. Infiniti had a car ready to go but pulled it . . . . clearly because it would have been laughed off the stage in comparison to the Model S. It was a luxury car with a drivetrain the same as a Leaf . . . you can't do that.
      • 1 Year Ago
      Well said, Mercennarius. And may I add the fact that Infiniti makes use of the lighter, longer-lived Lithium batteries over the inferior (and envirnmentally unfriendly) nickel metal-hydride counterparts used by Toyota.
        skierpage
        • 1 Year Ago
        Nickel metal-hydride batteries are not particularly environmentally unfriendly. They're not toxic and get recycled. Those pictures from Sudbury mine are over 40 years old. There's nickel in the chrome and metal of conventional cars, and anyone who pretends that the 20 pounds of it in the Toyota hybrid battery is remotely as bad as the tons of gasoline it saves from production and burning utterly lacks common sense.
          CoolWaters
          • 1 Year Ago
          @skierpage
          Not to mention the catalytic converter.
      chanonissan
      • 1 Year Ago
      first of all nissan hybrid system was superior more than toyota first generation and honda IMA. http://www.21stcentury.co.uk/cars/nissan_tino_hybrid.asp Why they did not sell them was the cost to build them and secondly toyota patent most of the drivetrain system, that why ford use their transmission system.Third to get around toyota patent electronics was not that advance like today. Nissan new system is less complicated than toyota that uses two and three motor, nissan system uses one motor and it cost less and just as effective.That is superiority. Ask ward Auto who have just test the Q50 that can glide up to 70 MPH in electric mode. and return 34 MPG in mix driving.
      SublimeKnight
      • 1 Year Ago
      The delay makes sense. The manufacturers truly in the EV marketspace (Nissan and Tesla) are both limited by their supply of batteries. An Infiniti EV would need to have a 40kWh battery today to be taken seriously and 60-80kWh in 5 years. Right now, given the battery supply limitations, Nissan is probably more profitable making 5 LEAFs instead of 3 LEs.
        chanonissan
        • 1 Year Ago
        @SublimeKnight
        you are partly right, battery is the problem, but not supply limitation, you can put a 24KWH in a leaf with a 100 HP motor, but you can not do that with an infiniti, you need a better battery and high speed motor. That is why the ZEOD is coming it has a motor capable of 200 MPH and nissan have been working on the battery and the motors over the months, now they are putting it to test if it can complete a lap at le mans. It has the similar power train as the emerg E concept. I hope you get the picture. Darren cox from nissan said they will update on every race the ZEOD does on the powertrain combo , as they have not decide if it will be parallel or series.
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      Dropping in a more powerful, more efficient electric motor shouldn't be too hard. Getting a little bigger battery would be good too.
      Smoking_dude
      • 1 Year Ago
      This guy is talking about 20 to 25 years. Tesla managed to double the range in only around 5 years. The $30000 Model C or Model E will hit the market in a few years. So i think infinity is it loosing there. Yes EVs suck and won't be ready in 20 years. while the model S is the best and safest car. my colleagues wonder. what sorcery does tesla. why can tesla make the perfect ev and all the old companies are unable to do so. well my evs are for idiots. if you can have a tesla, why shoud you buy an infinity?
        Sanchez
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        Infinity is an audio brand owned by Harman.
        Ricardo Gozinya
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        Different mindsets. Right now, Tesla's a new comer, run by a guy who has a solid vision of what he wants, and seems to let the designers and engineers do their job, and not letting short-term profits interfere with putting out a great profit. Also, the R&D they do right now, they absolutely have to do, they have to establish themselves, to earn their way. Tesla has something to prove, and luckily for them, they've got a lot of people with the brains to pull it off. The established players on the other hand are a lot less concerned about increasing marketshare, and a lot more concerned with maximizing profit. So R&D is something they do as little as possible, and as cheaply as possible. It's one of the reasons I'd hate to see Tesla or Mission be bought out by one of the big established companies. Capitalism requires competition, and the best competition are the young upstarts, those with new ideas for how things can be done.
        Spec
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        The old companies can make a Tesla. They just didn't believe that there would be a market for a $70K electric luxury sedan. They were wrong.
        CoolWaters
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Smoking_dude
        "What sorcery doth Tesla use". Funny.
          chanonissan
          • 1 Year Ago
          @CoolWaters
          he must be dreaming 20 years!! the nissan system to beat telsa is running in the nissan ZEOD.
      chanonissan
      • 1 Year Ago
      @skierpage, worst than toyota and less MPG? have you known what system toyota have it have a 2.4 liter and two motor that gives 200HP nissan system is a 3.5 liter with 354 HP that over 100 HP more than toyota, how can you compare and say worst mileage. @ cool waters.Nissan did release city milage for the pathfinder it is 25 MPG, and 26 combined, 27 Highway.
      chanonissan
      • 1 Year Ago
      and May I add nissan system cost $3500 - $4000 less that toyota system.
      CoolWaters
      • 1 Year Ago
      No TESLA competition, go it.
        Dave
        • 1 Year Ago
        @CoolWaters
        They're not competing with Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini, or any other small niche carmakers either.
      Jaclock LaGlock
      • 1 Year Ago
      Take your time.
      mustang_sallad
      • 1 Year Ago
      Surprised the post didn't mention his "EVs are for idiots" comment from when he was at Audi. I guess you don't want to embarrass the fellow who just granted you an interview, but it's worth mentioning this guy has been an outspoken critic of cars with plugs in the past. Good to see he's come around to the idea, if not all that enthusiastically.
        brotherkenny4
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mustang_sallad
        He has no choice.
        Greg
        • 1 Year Ago
        @mustang_sallad
        Remember that people (past and present) report the company line, not just their own opinions.
      chanonissan
      • 1 Year Ago
      Donot be fool infinti parent Nissan Motor Co is curently testing battery and high speed motor (200 MPH) to be used, according to Darren Cox from nissan sport. Part of the answer is the nissan ZEOD, this battery and motor will be used in there, it has a drive train similar to the emerg_E drive train, it is a 1.2 liter turbo pair with motors and will run in the garage 56 at le mans this year. And they work on the Mild Hybrid (KERS) for new renault F1 engine for the infiniti Red Bull. They working also on PHEV, but donot expect it in infiniti soon (but will appear in nissan vehicle 2015), nissan wants a battery that can last long, charge fast before even putting it in Infiniti, and that how the ZEOD come into play, nissan high hopes is to complete a lap on battery power alone, if they achieve that, then this break though can apply to future hybrid and EV with high speed motor capable of speed of up to 200 MPH. But as I say the trick is in the battery.
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