Infiniti trades miles for knots with QX56-powered luxury boat project

Yes, we obsessively cover the auto industry, but that doesn't mean we don't enjoy other modes of transportation. We may even get downright giddy when two different worlds collide, like for example, when a boat is powered by a large automobile engine. Infiniti must feel the same way because the automaker is helping two Tennessee schools bring a maritime project to life.

Infiniti's North American headquarters is located in Franklin, Tennessee, and the automaker is awfully proud of the state in which it resides. Infiniti is also quite proud of the 5.6-liter V8 engine that sits under the hoods of both the QX56 sport utility vehicle and M56 sedan. How to combine those two loves? Donate a QX56 to two local schools, which will use the mighty mill to add some serious horsepower to their budding boat.

Both the Tennessee Technical Center-Nashville and Nashville State Community College have automotive tech programs. Infiniti provided the guts of its full-size luxobarge so that the students could learn how to apply the powerplant to a non-automotive application. Sounds kind of odd, but makes perfect sense when you dig a little deeper. These students are taking a modern (read: complicated) engine, and making it work in an environment in which it was not intended to perform.

So far, the team has the engine separated from the rest of the vehicle, and the rest of the QX56 will stay with Tennessee Tech for continued learning applications. The 400-horsepower engine is being prepped for nautical duty, and the ultimate result will see it powering a luxury boat. Infiniti isn't stopping with the engine, and is in fact supplying a Bose audio system, semi-aniline leather seats, XM satellite radio with NavWeather and, lest we forget, the brand's signature analog clock will find its way in there as well.
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Infiniti Takes Luxury to School With QX56-Powered Boat Project

– 400-HP Engine Set to Go From Towing Workhorse to Luxury Boat Motor
With the Help of Local Community College Students –

FRANKLIN, Tenn. (July 27, 2011) – The Infiniti QX56 full-size luxury SUV might be best known for its leather-trimmed, 7-passenger interior and technological advances like the world's first Around View™ Monitor, but its real claim to fame could be its powerful, 400-horsepower 5.6-liter V8 engine and 8,500-pound towing capacity. Offering strong low-end torque, smooth operation throughout the entire RPM range and peak torque of 413 lb-ft, the Infiniti QX certainly has "power to go, power to tow" credentials in spades.

Now, in a unique twist on putting the cart before the horse, Infiniti has embarked on a one-off project to add QX power to what's being towed – a boat modified around a QX engine and designed with the luxury, performance and craftsmanship of its flagship SUV.

"The genesis for the Infiniti QX-powered luxury boat project came about when a group of us were talking about our full-size SUV's standing as the perfect luxury tow vehicle – capable of carrying tons of weight, and lots of people and their cargo, in style," said Infiniti Americas Vice President Ben Poore. "So what better object to tow than a boat custom-outfitted to QX-inspired standards, starting with its powerful but fuel-efficient engine and continuing with semi-aniline leather on the seats, XM® satellite radio system with NavWeather™ and Bose® speakers, and signature Infiniti analog clock."

The first step in the Infiniti luxury boat project is well underway with the extraction and maritime prep of the QX engine. With assistance from Infiniti engineers and training managers, a team of automotive technical training program students from Tennessee Technical Center-Nashville and Nashville State Community College removed the 5.6-liter engine and 7-speed automatic transmission from a 2011 Infiniti QX. Infiniti donated the rest of the vehicle to Tennessee Tech for continued use in their automotive curriculum.

The assignment, supervised by school instructors, was to not only remove the engine but to determine how to make it work outside the vehicle, using components such as the starter and electronic control unit, as well as removing extraneous systems, such as the power steering pump, which aren't needed to power a boat. And, given the complex nature of today's advanced engine electronics, controllers, processors and emissions systems, engineers at the manufacturing facility in Decherd, Tenn. – where the Infiniti QX56 engine is built – lent a considerable amount of time and knowledge to making sure the engine performs as well on water as it does on terra firma.

"It's great to involve students from the local community in this project, especially since Infiniti QX engines are manufactured in nearby Decherd, Tennessee," added Poore. "It's our hope that someday students in these automotive programs who will learn from the Infiniti QX we donated to the Technical Center will go on to work at our company or Infiniti retailers' service departments."

With the engine removal completed, the Infiniti QX-powered luxury boat project is now being prepped to debut by next boating season. Project updates, with teaser photos, will be provided along the way at and Fans and followers of these sites will soon also have an opportunity to name the Infiniti-powered boat.

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