Nissan Motor Co. premium brand Infiniti plans to launch its first full-electric car in 2013. The automaker revealed a sketch of the five-seat sedan in late September that Nissan-Infiniti design boss Shiro Nakamura says is very close to what his team wants to turn into reality. Nakamura recently provided details on the car and talked about how Infiniti wants to differentiate itself from rivals in Europe during a phone interview with Automotive News Europe Managing Editor Douglas A. Bolduc.
Infiniti EV sketch reveals a lot, design boss says
What does the sketch of the Infiniti electric car convey?
I like the sketch. The sketch conveys the image of what we would like to achieve. That is the image in our minds.
How will the design of the electric Infiniti be different other cars in the lineup?
The EV for Infiniti is not separated from other Infinitis. We have gasoline and now diesel models, and we will offer a hybrid next year. In a few years, we will launch the EV. We will have four different types of powertrains but we want to be consistent with the brand. If you put the new EV and the M hybrid together you will see the same design philosophy. Proportionally, the EV doesn't have a long hood like the FX and M. It will have a short nose. But overall the design language will be quite close to FX, M and Essence. It is not the same when it comes to Nissan. For Nissan we will make the EV more independent, but for Infiniti we will try to keep the Infiniti identity even with the EV.
How will the design the electric Infiniti differ from the work you done for the lineup?
The EV and existing Infiniti lineup have different proportions. We have to be honest. We do not want to intentionally make the EV look like a car with a big engine. That is not honest. That means the way to show the car's power, strength and elegance is different from what we do on our other cars. That is a real challenge to us. We have not finalized our EV design yet. Currently we are working on how we express the elegance and performance in a new EV package. That is the challenge. We will show you our answer for what we will do with the EV at a future auto show.
When will you finalize the design?
In the middle of next year. We already have several good design proposals.
Are you half way there or more?
I think we are 70 percent to 80 percent there. We still have to do more.
What will be the most noticeable differences in the Infiniti EV?
We will not have a big hood. It will be rather small. And the size of the tires has to be reasonable. We want people to say, “Yes, this is an EV from Infiniti.” I can talk about it, but the reaction from the customers is even more important..
How do you distinguish Infiniti from other premium brands in Europe?
Brand-wise, we want to be very performance oriented as well as offer elegance when it comes to the exterior design. One example is the Essence concept and also the new M. Our intention is expressed most clearly in the FX and the new M. When I speak to Europeans, they seem to understand our intensions. What is the difference when compared with a German brand? I would say we are more humanistic and warm. The Germans are very good, but we want Infiniti to be a more emotional and humanistic brand.
What are the tricks you use to convey the message?
Starting with the exterior, we say that design is inspired by nature. For example, from the FX and the M we see inspiration from an ocean wave. A wave has a very nice elegance but at the same time it really has power. You only see the surface, but below the surface of the ocean there is a lot of energy behind the wave. We want to express the power and energy in an elegant manner. I want people to get the power-from-nature feeling. The second thing we do is with the interior. We want it to be performance-oriented but also a comfortable space. It is not too tight. The driver and passenger should feel very comfortable. We also want to offer hospitality, a welcoming feeling in the interior. That is what differentiates us from the Europeans.