Detroit Auto Show: Infiniti QX Inspiration Concept Scouts for an Electric Offensive
You’re looking at the styling direction in which Infiniti will take its electric vehicles.
On Monday, Infiniti revealed in full its QX Inspiration concept, an electric crossover that foretells Infiniti's design direction for its future electrified vehicles.
Infiniti bills the QX Inspiration as an all-electric, high-performance, luxury crossover, and the first among many such vehicles in the automaker's future. While the QX Inspiration is, for now, a concept car, Infiniti says its design will inform that of its first production EV, which will too be a crossover, based on an entirely new platform. It's uncertain how many body styles said platform will underpin, though Infiniti is known to be developing a new electrified vehicle architecture for use on a hybrid sedan, and potentially other vehicles such as this.
"The Infiniti QX Inspiration marks the beginning of a new generation of Infiniti cars and establishes a direct blueprint for the brand's first electric vehicle," said Infiniti President Christian Meunier. "Based on a new, dedicated electric vehicle architecture and inspired by Infiniti's Japanese DNA, the SUV concept previews a product portfolio which will offer high performance, ultra-low emissions and range confidence."
"For Infiniti, our powertrain electrification strategy focuses on offering both high performance and range confidence," added Infiniti Vice President François Bancon. "As the luxury brand within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, Infiniti can draw on a wide range of ultra-low emissions powertrain technologies to deliver driving pleasure and thrilling performance. We have previously explored this with the Prototype 9 and Prototype 10, and QX Inspiration shows how this philosophy will manifest itself in production: as a powerful electric SUV with a versatile character and luxurious interior."
With a wheelbase of 2,850 millimeters (112 inches), the QX Inspiration is nearly the size of the current QX50. Despite similar dimensions, the QX Inspiration is considerably roomier inside than a QX50, owing not just to its lengthier wheelbase, but its electric powertrain architecture which Infiniti touts as critical to achieving maximum comfort in a vehicle.
Infiniti points to how the elimination of an internal combustion engine (ICE), its transmission, and associated engine bay for a floor-mounted battery and electric motors can allow the interior to sprawl across more of a vehicle's floorpan. With no bulky block of cylinders in the way, the cabin's size can rival that of larger ICE luxury vehicles, but the lack of a transmission means the QX Inspiration can also have a completely flat floor, giving Infiniti reason to call the vehicle's interior "lounge-like."
Said interior was designed with "omotenashi" (in English: hospitality) in mind and is decorated entirely with cushy, handcrafted furnishings. Its front seats can rotate 30 degrees outward for ease of egress, while the rears have had their surroundings tailored to eliminate all unnecessary electronics (save for mood lighting) in a move that's sure to satisfy The Drive's Mike Guy in the wake of his Bentley Continental GT review.
Infiniti insists the production vehicle that will result from the QX Inspiration will be the first in a lineup of long-range EVs, though the automaker didn't define what it considers long range. Hopefully, this doesn't mean that Infiniti's EVs will have to wait as long as its parent company Nissan did to give the Leaf a long-range option.
Infiniti hasn't pledged an immediate leap toward selling exclusively electric models—its electrification will start in 2021—though it says its future offerings will only consist of models that make use of electric power, even if in small doses. This lineup will eventually consist of ICE-favoring "performance hybrids," E-Power plug-in hybrids, and fully-electric vehicles whose only source of propulsion is electric motors.
Given the standard of Nissan and Infiniti's electric powertrain technology as established by the Leaf e+, which uses a 62 kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery to stride an estimated 226 miles (EPA), it's reasonable to expect similar capabilities from the vehicle that will be born of the QX Inspiration. By that point, Nissan's EV tech may advance further, allowing whatever succeeds the QX Inspiration to squeeze more range from its battery.