The Infiniti LE Concept, which makes its world debut at the 2012 New York International Auto Show, is more than just the latest in the series of dramatically styled, technologically advanced concepts from Infiniti. Though sharing much with the stunning futuristic Infiniti concepts that have come before – a sweeping aerodynamic body, an elegantly intelligent interior, inspired driving performance and advanced next-generation technology – the Infiniti LE Concept is more grounded in reality. A production version is expected to reach Infiniti showrooms in near-similar form within the next two years as Infiniti’s first zero emission luxury sedan.
“In a future that holds an increasing consumption of natural resources, we will advance our sustainable mobility leadership and expand our EV market penetration with new electric vehicles such as the Infiniti LE Concept,” said Nissan President and CEO Carlos Ghosn. “Infiniti is well positioned to deliver the objectives for a sustainable future, relying on our capable, hard-working and motivated team members around the world. We are a challenger.”
From inception, the LE Concept has been designed as a pure Infiniti, rather than as an electric vehicle with luxury appointments. The vehicle is also substantial in form – about the same overall length as an Infiniti G Sedan – supporting Infiniti’s belief that zero emission does not have to mean small. The Infiniti LE Concept does not compromise either roominess or comfort, which is why it starts with an advanced luxury-styled sedan body, not a converted hatchback.
“The LE Concept’s bold exterior is defined by its underlying high performance. It is first and foremost an Infiniti, born of our philosophy of Inspired Performance. Rather than taking an EV and adding an Infiniti badge, we are taking an Infiniti and removing the tailpipe,” explained Poore. “Infiniti is all about challenging convention, which this vehicle does – proving that luxury at the next level can be both gorgeous and zero emission.”
The LE Concept’s dramatic exterior blends distinctive Infiniti design cues, such as its double-arch grille and crescent-cut rear-pillar, with EV aerodynamic efficiency to create a sleek, emotional silhouette. The strong shoulder line, which directs the eye from front to rear, expresses a dynamic, elegant flowing movement. The beautifully balanced proportions represent an efficient dynamic form as a new definition of luxury.
A number of design features contribute to the coefficient of drag of 0.25, which aids driving range, including the aluminum-alloy wheels with aero treatment, the high rear deck, rear aero diffuser and aero side fin spoilers with integrated illumination. The large front grille features a solid finisher and a charge port hidden under the illuminated centre Infiniti emblem. The deep-skirted front fascia includes an aero fin spoiler with illumination. The iconic Infiniti LED headlights and taillights echo the design direction of Infiniti’s recent Infiniti Essence and EMERG-E concepts.
Special illumination located under the rear diffuser illustrates the positioning of the wireless charger. The already dramatic exterior is accentuated by blue LED lighting that flows around the lower panels. Distinctive Infiniti EV Blue paint is adopted to enhance the sense of Infiniti EV-ness on the door handles and wheels.
“The LE Concept exterior is shaped to maximise its aerodynamic efficiency, yet it doesn’t scream ‘electric vehicle’. The design priorities are on visibility, hospitality and utility – and, of course, Infiniti-ness,” said Poore. “The same can be said of the interior, which takes advantage of the low-noise drivetrain to provide the tranquil quietness of a living room, though one that offers far more exhilaration and mobility.”
The Infiniti LE Concept’s efficient EV platform maximises interior space by placing the batteries under the passenger compartment floor. This positioning helps provide a low vehicle centre of gravity for enhanced handling and maximises trunk room, without compromising front or rear seat passenger legroom or comfort. Beyond its advanced packaging, the real beauty of the interior design is its “smart hospitality” – combining a luxurious Infiniti environment with next-generation instrumentation, driver interface and connectivity.
The LE Concept interior is anchored by its Infiniti signature double-wave layout, which flows seamlessly from instrument panel to the centre console and down the cabin sides – embracing driver and passengers in a generous, energetic space. The double-wave design is highlighted by special soft LED Infiniti EV Blue lighting that flows in two waves from front to back, while the centre console forms a strong anchor line that penetrates the interior space. The centre console finisher adds a touch of EV-ness though use of a “Hamon” (ripple) design. A sculpted shift knob comfortably controls the LE Concept’s drive system.
Infiniti-EV meters combine modern digital display and timeless analogue gauges, creating an atmosphere of both exclusivity and futuristic design. The centre cluster features an innovative connected twin display powered by an Intel Atom™ processor. The twin display will offer Infiniti LE drivers access to the kinds of information that EV drivers will appreciate such as a dynamic range calculator that will use onboard and cloud based data. As the public charging station network expands, the on-board database will be kept current. And on compatible charger networks, the driver will be able to confirm real time charger availability.
The elegant, bolstered seat and door trim design also comes from traditional roots, inspired by the “Eriashi” (collar) of a Japanese kimono. The seats are covered in a suede-and-mesh fabric with violet accents, and semi-aniline leather sides. The unique interior color combination of blush violet for upper portions and light white for lower also reinforces the vehicle’s Infiniti EV-ness.
“Today’s luxury EV intenders expect their EV to be a luxury vehicle first, with advanced technology, cutting-edge design and premium appointments,” said Poore. “The Infiniti LE Concept delivers in every dimension, welcoming driver and passenger as guests, much as you’d expect in the owners’ homes.”
“For those who wonder how a zero emission vehicle like the Infiniti LE Concept will fit into their lifestyles, the answer is simple: perfectly. With a range of current and future stainable vehicles faithful to the Infiniti promise of Inspired Performance, Infiniti is well positioned for the growing demand for clean, efficient and exciting vehicles,” concluded Ghosn. “In a rapidly changing world, Infiniti is well ahead of the game.”