Infiniti is blazing an unconventional path to electrification

It's planning a plug-less gasoline-electric car, and a full EV

Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept
Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept / Image Credit: Drew Phillips
View 12 Photos

When it comes to electrification, Infiniti has a history of speaking a great deal but doing little. The Nissan-owned company's plug-in offensive will start in the 2020s, and it provided preliminary details about the technology that motorists can expect to find in showrooms in the not-too-distant future.

Eric Rigaux, Infiniti's general manager of product strategy and planning, told Roadshow the firm's engineering department is putting the final touches on two forward-thinking electrified powertrains. The first one will run solely on electricity, while the second one will rely on a gasoline-powered generator to provide more range. Both are being developed to fit into a flexible new platform.

Technical details about the electric setup remain vague, so we don't know how big of a battery pack Infiniti will use, or how many motors will draw electricity from it. However, Roadshow learned the gasoline-electric layout will never need to be plugged in, because a 1.5-liter, three-cylinder engine equipped with Infiniti's innovative variable-compression technology will produce the electricity it needs to run. The triple won't directly spin the wheels; it will channel the juice it creates to a battery pack. It's not a zero-emissions solution, but it's one that makes a lot of sense, because users won't need to wait for a charge, and they'll be able to drive for about 500 miles between fill-ups.

The now-defunct Chevrolet Volt featured a similar drivetrain, but owners had the possibility of plugging it in. Infiniti won't give motorists that option; there won't be a plug anywhere on the car.

Fluid-filled motor mounts and active noise cancellation will ensure the passengers don't feel or hear the triple whirring away. Meanwhile, two electric motors (one over each axle) will deliver between 248 and 429 horsepower; final specifications haven't been signed off yet. And, because power will come from gasoline, there's no need to integrate a bulky battery pack into the chassis. Infiniti's future gasoline-electric models won't require anything bigger than a 5.1-kilowatt-hour unit, which can unintrusively be stuffed under the trunk floor or sandwiched between the floor and the rear seat.

Infiniti chose a crossover to inaugurate its battery-electric powertrain; the QX Inspiration concept (pictured) unveiled during the 2019 Detroit Auto Show shed light on what the model will look like. High-riding models are in hot demand everywhere, but the sedan market remains relatively strong, and it's this body style that will usher in the gasoline-electric technology. The tall-ish Qs Inspiration concept introduced during the 2019 Shanghai show outlined the model's basic design.

What remains to be seen is when Infiniti will introduce the duo. It's not tremendously far-fetched to speculate at least one will make its debut in 2020 and arrive in showrooms by the 2022 model year.

Share This Photo X