2012 Infiniti Emerg-E concept
Both a work of art and a work of high-tech engineering, the mid-engine sports car uses a plug-in hybrid drivetrain--and it may be closer to production than you'd think.
According to Car and Driver, the Emerg-E is no one-off, engine-less concept car, but actually uses a platform and drivetrain thoroughly engineered by British sports car maker Lotus.
The platform is that of the Lotus Evora 414E Hybrid, developed using funding from Great Britain's Technology Strategy Board--think of it as the U.K's equivalent of a DoE loan.
Under the skin
The Evora's platform, like any current Lotus, and like the Tesla Roadster, is made of extruded aluminum sections bonded together with a special adhesive. It's race-car strong and very lightweight--only about 450 pounds--making it the ideal basis for a sports car.
The suspension is also aluminum, and both the Evora and its new Infiniti stablemate use Bilstein shocks and Eibach springs. The Evora 414E and Infiniti Emerg-E both have a regenerative braking system to help top-up the batteries.
Two electric motors provide the power, with combined output of 402 horsepower and 738 pounds-feet of torque--enough to reach 60mph in 4.1 seconds. Top speed is limited to 138mph, which we suspect is plenty for most people.
The small 15 kWh lithium-ion battery provides enough range for around 30 miles of electric-only driving, at which point a Lotus-designed and built 1.2-liter, three-cylinder, 50-horsepower engine kicks in.
Unlike the range-extender found in the Chevy Volt, this is a dedicated engine designed for plug-ins. It's very light, small, and optimized for constant running speeds, to maximize efficiency. The range-extender adds another 270 miles to the car's electric range, before it needs refuelling.
Over the skin
Naturally, the Infiniti attracted most attention for its styling, which is quite different from that of the Evora. It's recognisably an Infiniti, but really stands out next to the company's current sedans and SUVs.
Though production is feasible, it hasn't yet been confirmed. If it was to go on sale, it would line up next to cars like the 2015 Acura NSX concept, another high-profile hybrid supercar due in the next few years.
That's good news for green buyers whatever level of the market they're at--high profile, green supercars will do a lot of good for the image of electric vehicles over the next few years.