Infiniti Might Ditch Rear-Wheel Drive as It Moves Toward Electrification

It sounds like all-wheel drive is going to be the new standard.

INFINITI Q Inspiration Concept
INFINITI—Copyright 2018

Rear-wheel drive and V-6 engines have been pretty big parts of Infiniti’s identity since the brand began back in 1989. But there’s a transformation on the horizon for Nissan’s luxury brand. According to a recent interview with Australian publication GoAuto, Infiniti product strategy vice president Francois Bancon says there’s a major platform change coming to the brand.

“All new product we do after 2021 is going to be electrified and it should be in sync with the new package or platform,” Bancon told GoAuto. When asked about the Infiniti FM platform that underpins the Q50, Q60, and Q70 that’s been around since 2001, Bancon explained “We are going to have to change, this platform is a V-6 platform, it is rear-wheel drive. We are going to have to shift because this platform is not an electrified platform. You need a battery, you need an electric motor, it’s a different package.”

Bancon went on to say whatever replaces the three current Infiniti cars will “probably not” be rear-wheel drive. “Probably all-wheel drive, with some distribution more 50:50 (front-to-rear) than the 60:40 we have today, so probably a little more rear distribution than we have today,” said Bancon. “Since you shift electric you have a motor in the front and in the back, so rear-wheel drive does not make sense anymore. So with the new generation electrified platform … it’s a bit like Audi with its four-by-four (wheel drive).”

We reached out to Infiniti asking for more details about the future of the brand in terms of drivetrain and electrification. “In January, [Infiniti] announced that all new models will offer electrified powertrains from 2021, the same year we will have our first pure electric vehicle,” said an Infiniti representative in an email to The Drive. “We plan to offer a mix of pure electric and [e-power] vehicles, the latter of which features a small gasoline engine that charges a high output battery, eliminating the need for an external charging source. As a result of this emphasis on low-emission technology, [Infiniti] expects more than half of our vehicles globally will have some sort of electric powertrain by 2025. Beyond that, we have no further comment on our future product portfolio.”

So it isn’t a definite thing that rear-wheel-drive Infinitis are on death row, but it looks like all-wheel drive will be the new standard once electrification takes over. We’re anxious to see what Infiniti has in store for the future and how its new product strategy will influence the rest of the luxury car world.