Infiniti has place for an Emerg-E-like ‘halo car’ in its future - Palmer says
7/6/14 7:45 am chumakdenis 1
Infinity Emerg-E Concept was unveiled to the public at 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
Well, engineers from Infinity division of Nissan Motors worked really hard under this car and as a reward they recieved positive feedback from the critics.
But this information is really nothing and we would like to know more about this car, aren't we?
Ok, here we go.
Inspired by Lotus Evora
It is based on the Lotus Evora platform and the hybrid powertrain shown in 2012 as the Lotus 414E concept car.
It emerges from a collaboration on range-extended electric vehicles between Nissan's European tech centre in Cranfield and Lotus and Jaguar-Land Rover, using British suppliers: Xtrac transmission, Lola composites, Amberjac batteries and Evo Electric motors, of their unique axial flux type.
"We need a strong design identity for Infiniti," says Shiro Nakamura, senior vice president of design. Emerg-e fits that brief like a super model's bikini. Out on the test track under blustery English skies this aluminum-framed, carbon-fiber bodied coupe looks coherent and wildly different. Those outrageous front wings curve gently down the body, the door scallops pull the eyes rearward and the swooping air ducts not only add style, but also pump air into the rear-mounted engine and battery radiators.
Inside the car
Under the skin, this is an extended-range battery hybrid. Its 400 lb, 17kWh Amberjack lithium-ion battery sits behind the seats, along with four separate inverters supplying current to two electric motors running in tandem, one for each rear wheel. The 1.2-liter, three-cylinder gasoline engine powers a generator, which charges the battery. The power output is a total of 402 bhp with 738 lb.-ft of torque from a virtual standstill. Top speed is limited to 130 mph to match the 47 bhp engine's output against the sustained power output of the battery and 0-60 mph is under 4 seconds. The range is just over 30 miles from the battery and a total of 300 miles in total, with a recharge time at about four hours.
Also, its carbon-fibre body uses all sorts of careful material selection, so it's 160kg lighter than the Lotus.
The cabin isn't as dramatic as the coachwork, but the carbon-weave trim panels are tough and good to touch.
The seats are comfortable and there's plenty of room for a couple of six footers, although space is at a premium. Start her up and there's a 10-second delay for a systems check, then silence.
No transmission, you just push to go and, boy does it go. Acceleration is seamless and fast, while the big Pirellis squirm under the onslaught. It's not exactly silent, either, with a fair bit of tire roar, wind buffeting and the creak of carbon-fiber panels. Turn in to corners is fast, especially considering the 3522 lb curb weight. The battery's mass acts as a center pivot as the car turns, which adds speed and positivity and the body scarcely rolls. The fronts slide first, but the handling has a first-rate balance, with sensitive, well-weighted steering, which allows you to accurately place the car.
On a test track, the ride is hard to judge, but on lightweight wishbone-based suspension and wide tires, the primary ride handles the bigger bumps smoothly. The brakes need work, though, with a gap between the deployment of friction and regeneration braking which feels disconcerting.
Electric performance has advantages over most cars of any propulsion type: urgent, progressive, immediate and uninterrupted by gearshifts. And when the batteries can't cope, the little petrol donkey chimes in. Because the steering and handling are utterly gorgeous, you're tempted to use that energy pretty hard.
We have heard some rumours that mid-engine two-seater sports car may not reach production, but a few days ago Nissan vice president Andy Palmer rejected this and told us that Infinity plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles are not dead.
Asked about the Emerg-E, Infiniti’s plug-in hybrid concept car debuted back in 2012 at the Geneva Motor Show, Palmer hinted that there was space in Infiniti’s future for a super-sexy plug-in hybrid, but wouldn’t commit to the Emerg-E specifically.
“There’s room in the mid-term plan for a halo car of the Emerg-E nature. The design execution still needs some discussion, though. But yes, you can see a halo car in our future,” he confirmed.
Originally designed with twin electric motors - one for each rear wheel - and a turbocharged three cylinder gasoline engine, the Emerg-E concept car was originally promised for production by Infiniti. But Infiniti Boss Johan de Nysschen, a known electric car skeptic, put the brakes on the Emerg-E entering production along with other Infiniti plug-ins.
Palmer meanwhile, says the Emerg-E, while not planned for production, will influence a future halo car, with or without a plug.
“A hybrid fits the Chinese market conditions and portfolio overall best,” he said. “You still have to reach a certain line on a profitability graph even if you’re doing a supercar. I would expect it to have some kind of hybridisation.”
Other electric cars
Talking of the rest of the Infiniti lineup, Palmer confirmed that plans for an all-electric Infinti were in full swing, despite de Nysschen saying earlier this year that all plug-in projects were ‘on hold indefinitely.’
Infiniti is working on an all-electric model with wireless charging like the LE concept, Palmer said.
Leveraging Nissan’s lead in the electric vehicle marketplace, Palmer said a plug-in Infiniti was being developed using Nissan’s next-generation LEAF drivetrain technology. While a date hasn’t been set for Nissan’s next-generation LEAF yet, it is expected to enter the market some time in 2016.
As previously demonstrated on the Infiniti LE all-electric sedan concept car, Infiniti’s future plug-in cars will focus on wireless charging.
“We want contactless charging, and we think we can do that,” Palmer said. “We want the customer to be able to drive home and park the car on a charging mat and have it charged in the morning. We don’t have the smell of diesel on our hands any more.”
While there’s no details on when to expect an all-electric Infiniti, we’d expect Infiniti’s first EV to follow the next-generation LEAF to market. Given most industry insiders expect a next-generation LEAF in 2016, we’d expect the first Infiniti EV some time in 2017.
Palmer’s interview with AutoExpress gave us one more interesting snippet of information too - but focused on Nissan’s sports lineup rather than its Infiniti luxury brand.
Nissan’s ZEOD technology - which debuted this year at the famous 24 hour Le Mans endurance race - will make its way into Nissan’s production cars.
“ZEOD will be our name for plug-in hybrids - the racecar is our poster boy. We set two goals for Le Mans: an electric lap and [achieving a speed of] 300kph. We managed both of those, which ticks all our boxes, and made history.”
In other words, regardless of its brand or segment, Nissan’s future - and perhaps Infiniti’s too - lies firmly with plug-in cars.