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Infiniti LE Concept: Electric Sedan Full Details, NY Auto Show

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Yesterday, we got a brief glimpse of Infiniti's four-door sedan concept car; today, we have all the details of the Infiniti LE Concept.

The four-door, all-electric sedan concept is really a thinly disguised production car that will reach Infiniti dealers within two years.

It gives Nissan's luxury brand its first all-electric vehicle and an entry in the "sustainable luxury" category--when and if that develops.

Leaf underneath

Built on the underpinnings of the Nissan Leaf five-door hatchback, the LE Concept has the same 24-kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery.

Infiniti stressed the "immediate full-torque response" during acceleration offered by a more powerful electric motor--100 kilowatts (134 horsepower) against the Leaf's 80 kW.

Hitting new heights of hyperbole, the press release says the 240 lb-ft of torque "empowers you, without overpowering you – though the temptation is always there to leave drivers in the next lane behind."

The company gave no performance figures, but said the range would be 100 miles. That's the same figure it gave for the Leaf, rated by the EPA at 73 miles of electric range.

The 2014 Infiniti LE will be built in Nissan's assembly plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, where Leaf assembly will start this December. An adjacent lithium-ion cell fabrication plant will start production in September.

2012 Infiniti LE Concept

2012 Infiniti LE Concept

Enlarge Photo
Mid-size luxury lines

The car itself is larger than the Leaf, and at 186 inches long, it's roughly the same length as the Infiniti G sedan. It rides on low-rolling-resistance tires fitted to 19-inch alloy wheels with a wind-resistant design.

As the company boasts, "zero emission does not have to mean small." The LE Concept, it says, is "shaped to maximize its aerodynamic efficiency, yet it doesn’t scream ‘electric vehicle.’"

The smooth, flowing body with a distinctive shoulder line has a drag coefficient of 0.25, according to the company. That's the same figure Toyota quotes for its current Prius hybrid, one of the more aerodynamic volume cars sold today.

With the Infiniti double-arch grille and crescent-shaped roof pillar, the car incorporates traditional Infiniti styling cues--but it is a dedicated electric car, not a converted gasoline sedan. But as a concept, it has a number of features that may not make it all the way into production.

Those include an illuminated Infiniti emblem on the front "grille" (a touch originally used by now-defunct British marque Wolseley), an illuminated "fin spoiler" in the front apron, and blue LED lighting around the car's lower panels.

2012 Infiniti LE Concept

2012 Infiniti LE Concept

Enlarge Photo
Violet interior

Inside, the double-wave design theme is lit by soft blue LEDs, and the center console has a ripple pattern with a sculpted palm-shaped drive controller knob for effect.

Instruments are a mix of digital and analog, with a range display that uses a mix of onboard and cloud-based data. The car also maintains a database of charging station locations, including real-time charger availability as that data becomes available.

Seating surfaces are made up of a suede-and-mesh fabric sporting violet accents, with sides of semi-aniline leather. It's likely the only concept car at the show with interior decor of blush violet above light white.

The design and pattern, Infiniti says, is inspired by eniashi, or the collar of a traditional kimono. The quiet electric drivetrain, Infiniti says, provides the "tranquil quietness of a living room,"

Other features include Intelligent Park Assist with 360-degree camera views.

2012 Infiniti LE Concept

2012 Infiniti LE Concept

Enlarge Photo
Inductive charging

The LE sedan may also pioneer wireless inductive charging, using a 50-kilowatt DC charging pad on the garage floor encasing a coil connected to the power source. The magnetic field it creates excites current in a second coil within the car.

"All you have to do is park your vehicle over the charging pad," said Infiniti Americas vice president Ben Poore, "with no need to connect cables." And, he noted, it's completely safe for children or pets and can easily be installed in private garages.

It would be the first home-based inductive charging system offered by a major carmaker. While Infiniti is showing this system on the LE concept car, it hasn't committed to offering it in production.

The LE also has a standard J-1772 charging port, and an optional DC Fast Charging port using the same 50-kW CHAdeMO plug as the Leaf does.

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Comments (15)
  1. So we have a bigger car, more powerful electric motor, but the same Battery capacity and it is going to have the same Range? What am I missing here?
     
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  2. Could it be lighter ????
     
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  3. My thoughts exactly. Nissan isn't advancing the state of the art one iota. Paying a lot more for a car that retains all the Leaf's inadequacies is not a path for higher sales, believe me. Have they still not learned anything from Tesla? Ghosn seems clueless
     
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  4. The reason this will do 100 miles is because it's just a concept so Nissan can make any claim it wants for it.
     
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  5. There are more comments in this thread
  6. To me, the biggest news is the inductive charging option. That is a veritable game changer in its own right. I'm hoping that inductive charging works, and catches on.

    As for the car, this is a very nice design that leaves me almost wondering why this wasn't the first EV to come out of Nissan instead of the Leaf?
     
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  7. Impressive looking. It is hard to believe that this beautiful design comes from the same company that designed the LEAF.

    As for the larger motor, for gasoline cars, larger engines generally means less efficiency at typical throttle positions. I am not sure that electric motors have the same issue.

    Also, as we have seen with the Prius C versus Prius, the hatchback shape of the LEAF may actually be less efficient than the LE concept shape. So as long as the weight gain of the LE compared to the LEAF isn't too big, maybe they can achieve the same range. And since the LE is two letters shorter than the LEAF, there will be some weight savings right away.
     
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  8. +1 internets to you sir!
     
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  9. The Leaf is modern, aspirational and simple. This Infiniti design is baroque, grotesque and obese.
     
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  10. I think operating effeciency of an electric motor can be tweeked by design but my understanding is that they are most effecient between 30% and 90% of full load. But that's for old school technology - with the new EV motors that might not apply.
    In any event my understanding is that it wouldn't make a ton of difference unless you are overloading the motor or if you were grossly overpowered.
     
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  11. Look at the seat belt latches built right into the front seat cushions. Are there any production cars with this feature? How many people would be too fat to buckle in or is that the point? (Nissan wants only skinny people to be seen in their halo vehicle.)
     
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  12. Don't know, but I have a sister-in-law that has to keep the Prius car door open while she buckles herself in, because once that car door is closed, there is no way anyone can find the buckle again.
     
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  13. I know I shouldn't think too much about the prototype digital dashboard, but I wonder...

    On the left side there is some sort of "gas" gauge reading 75 miles and 63%. That works out to 120 miles! Cool!

    On the right side there is a second "gas" gauge reading empty. Why two gauges for the same function?

    There is a larger gauge (left) showing battery temperature. Why do I, as a luxury car buyer, care about the battery temperature? Well, I know, is relates to range. But what am I supposed to do with this information? and should the temperature impact be incorporated into the range gauge.

    Finally, what is with the green car with the double headed arrow on it within the speedo?
     
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  14. same range? i can see saving money by using a single battery pack design, but an upscale car should have boosted the range to 150 rated miles.
     
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