14.8.2017Striking Infiniti EV concept revealed
A rather unusual concept has been unveiled at this year's Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, with Infiniti presenting the Prototype 9 - a car that manages to look both forwards and backwards at the same time.
The retro single-seater unashamedly recalls the great racing cars from the 1940's, and even the colour scheme links it to the famous Silver Arrows Mercedes Grand Prix cars driven by famous names like Fangio and Moss.
However, the concept might be based 70+ years in the past, but it features an up-to-date drivetrain, powered by a 120kW electric motor supported by a 30kWh battery.
The Infiniti has almost 150hp and more than 300 Nm of torque at its disposal, allowing it to complete the 0-62mph sprint in 5.5 seconds before reaching a top speed of 170kph (105.6mph). According to Infiniti, the Prototype 9 would allow for a range of about 20 minutes' heavy track usage.
So the powertrain is linked to the Nissan Leaf's, but the rest of the car is a combination of looking to a heritage that doesn't exist and exquisite craftsmanship.
The odd thing about Infiniti producing a 1940's inspired racer is that the company didn't exist until 1989. It was only a few years ago that it came over to Europe, but even considering its presence in Japanese and US markets before that, Infiniti is one of the world's newest motoring brands - created as Nissan's luxury arm.
That's why the design brief was highly conceptual, and not expected to progress past the sketching phase. Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Global Design, said: "We discussed the idea of 'chancing' upon an unrecognised race car, hidden away for decades in a barn, deep in the Japanese countryside.
"We wanted to explore what this looked like, what it would have been made of. Open-wheeled racers of the age were beautiful machines, elegant and powerful and with a wonderful purity of purpose. It's an automotive fantasy, but the notion captured our imaginations enough to put pencil to paper.
"The creation of the real world Infiniti Prototype 9 was entirely and coincidentally organic. As we started work on a physical model, word spread beyond the core design team, and other departments started checking in and offering assistance. Eventually, the production team became aware of the project â€“ and brought with them the desire and skills to build it."
Although unremittingly retro in design, the Prototype 9 is extremely advanced in production. Disk brakes up front are hidden in away, and the sculpting of the body work is part craftsmanship, part high-tech manufacturing. The complex shapes of some of the bodywork - such as the bonnet - have been created by dieless forming, while the tail's skeleton was cut with lasers, before the hand-beaten panels were laid on top.