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Nissan, Infiniti will each show a next-gen concept EV in Detroit

They'll riff on ideas first explored in the Infiniti Q Inspiration concept

  • Image Credit: Drew Phillips
The chief designer for Nissan and Infiniti said Wednesday that both brands will debut concept electric vehicles at the 2019 North American International Auto Show in Detroit in January that will likely show off Nissan's next-generation electric drive systems and the evolution of the brands' EV design direction first hinted at with Infiniti's stunning Q Inspiration.

Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of global design for Nissan, said the concepts will reflect a similar departure from standard vehicle proportions as the Q Inspiration. He would not say exactly what segment or segments the concepts would represent, but he dropped some hints at a couple possible powertrains for the concepts. Similar additional concepts will follow later in the year at the Tokyo Motor Show, he said.

"The Q Inspiration kind of hinted at it and we avoided discussing too much about what's driving that car. Of course, we talked about VC-Turbo, which is also possible," he said in an interview with Autoblog. "But if you really look at the car, Q Insipiration shifted the cabin forward. It was the first one to break the [mold] of Infiniti. So how to still have this artistry and this sense of carrozzerie" (Italian for coachbuilding) "of Infiniti without kind of the stereotypical long hood and the cabin shifted back and the windshield has to go through the center of the front wheel, these golden rules."

Infiniti debuted the Q Inspiration concept sedan in Detroit in January, with a swoopy, ghost-like design influenced by an archer shooting an arrow through the air, and innovative design features like an elongated cabin that expands interior space, a relative lack of chrome, and other features. It's powered by a compact variable compression turbocharged engine, which can change compression ratios on the fly to maximize efficiency and power, depending on the situation.

But Albaisa said the two concepts for Detroit could feature Nissan's e-Power series hybrid technology, which has mostly featured in Japan, and which features small, isolated gasoline engines that exist only to charge the batteries, not drive the wheels. They will also feature a new generation of battery packs, which he calls a "magic carpet."

"It's getting denser, it's getting thinner, the cars are able to get a little bit bigger, more space, we can really do much more," he said.

"We have the benefit of the couple of technologies, because we have pure EVs, and then we're gonna have the next generation of e-Powers, which are kind of built off of an EV platform. It's not like [traditional] hybrids, that are evolutions of internal combustion engines. We will have a couple of avenues to express the technologies.

"It's a pretty big deal because the whole midterm plan ... and vision of electrification is a "Y," it's not a couple of cars with huge ambitions of volumes, it's more a whole family of cars that can change the ecosystem of Nissan and Infiniti and the culture of the company."

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