LONDON – The head of Nissan global planning says Infiniti's electric car has been delayed because the premium automaker wants to incorporate more advanced charging and battery technology into the vehicle.
Andy Palmer denied speculation the delay indicated that Infiniti and parent Nissan were losing interest in electric cars. "Our heart is still in zero emissions," he told Automotive News Europe in a recent interview.
Infiniti previewed its future EV when it showed the LE concept sedan at last year's New York auto show. The car had been scheduled for launch in 2015. Palmer declined to put a new date on that launch, but said it was "not significantly" delayed.
"It's still within our mid-term plan," he said, without elaborating.
"There are some interesting advances in electric technology we hadn't anticipated when we showed the LE, which, by delaying a little bit, we can incorporate into the car," he said.
The rollout of wireless induction planned for charging the Infiniti EV is being hampered by the failure of a dominant system to emerge from the competing technologies on the market and from a lack of regulatory compliance, Palmer said.
Infiniti also plans to incorporate new lithium ion battery technology that Palmer said is so good that it alone justified the car's delay. Without going into detail, he said the better batteries would provide increase range at a lower price.
Like all carmakers in the EV sector, Infiniti's parent has struggled to convince consumers to switch to battery-powered cars without the help of generous government subsidies. Carlos Ghosn who is CEO of Nissan as well as its alliance partner, Renault, said in May that the Renault-Nissan would struggle to meet his target of 1.5 million EV sales by the end of the 2016 financial year.
Last year Nissan failed to hit its goal of selling 9,000 Leafs in Europe, ending the year with a volume of 5,192, according to market researcher JATO Dynamics.
This year, however, Leaf sales have increased following the start of European production in the UK as well as performance upgrades including a range increase to 199km from 175km. Through May, Nissan has sold 3,664 Leafs, up 88 percent on the same period the year before.
Last month Infiniti boss Johan de Nysschen first announced the delay of the brand's EV during an interview in which he described the plan for the automaker to triple sales to 500,000 by the end of the 2016 financial year as "inordinately ambitious."