To Infiniti and Beyond: What's the Essence of Their Hybrid Program?

infiniti essence concept geneva live 004

infiniti essence concept geneva live 004

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It's no mystery that Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn, wants electric vehicles to be a significant part of the Japanese automaker's future. He takes every chance he gets to advertise his ambitions and he's got the Leaf EV to champion his cause (and perhaps more importantly for Nissan, to take some press away from the Chevy Volt).

It should be no surprise then, that Nissan's luxury division, Infiniti, bears the responsibility of combining high style, driving performance and zero-emissions motoring. In that vein, the company's bigwigs had some tantalizing innuendo for the boys of Motor Trend at the LA Auto Show. Infiniti executive, Ben Poore, reiterated previously reported plans of an all-electric "performance-oriented luxury sedan."

And then there's the Essence. Yes, that's the 592-horsepower hybrid concept that bowed at the Geneva Motor Show in March. (What? You forgot?) It has a twin-turbo 3.7-liter V6 with direct injection and an electric motor between the engine and the tranny. The parallel hybrid system allows both the engine and the electric motor to work together or independently based on driver input. She's a real looker too.

Upon its unveiling, those months ago, we drooled, regained our senses and figured we'd never see this brilliant eye-candy on a public road. Now we're not so sure. Apparently a second Infiniti suit, Shiro Nakamura, told Motor Trend that the Essence concept is "only a showpiece...for now." Poore elaborated, saying that the response to the car has been so overwhelmingly positive that Infiniti is considering a production model. As of yet, no decision has been made.

A production version of the Essence could fall into the same category as the BMW Activehybrid X6: pointless. Why bother with a hybrid powertrain if it doesn't deliver 40-plus mpg? On the other hand, sometimes "pointless" is just what the doctor ordered. After all, this is the category where some of the best cars on the road reside: the Corvette ZR1, the Audi R8 and the Nissan GT-R to name a few.

Source: Motor Trend

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Comments (3)
  1. A hybrid version of this would be utterly pointless indeed. two doors and a plug (i.e. make it a PHEV) and Tesla and Fisker would have a serious new rival on their hands...

  2. The Infiniti Essence is one of the most beautiful cars I've seen - right up there with Fisker's designs. I hope they do produce it with the high performance hybrid power train. It may not be 40+ mpg, but it's easily twice what it would be to get that performance from an ICE alone.

  3. Nissan's LEAF is no less vaporware than anything else they use to promote a green image. The LEAF has kept the name 'Nissan' in the front along with GM and its Volt. Both are supposed to be in showrooms at the end of 2010.
    But while GM has developed the Volt into something that can be test driven by automotive journalists, the LEAF is still all show and no go. Where's the beef? Where's something that can be driven?
    I think Nissan must be called on their flakiness. IMHO, they are just using the LEAF and other concepts as PR tools. They are so far behind Toyota and Ford with hybrids, they are worried they'll fall off the radar screen with consumers.
    Shame on them.....

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