Infiniti may add a halo sports car with a hybrid or range-extended electric drivetrain by 2016. Autocar reports that Infiniti is considering launching the model, which would draw influence from the company’s previous Essence and Emerg-E concepts.
The halo sports car would reportedly be targeted to young owners, and especially the Asian market. Nissan executive vice president Andy Palmer told Autocar the Infiniti would be “like the Tesla [Model S], but with more flexibility in terms of range.” He said there was no chance of an Infiniti using the twin-turbo V-6 powerplant from the Nissan GT-R, however, because it is too harsh and “not suitable for Infiniti” customers. Previous rumors suggested an Infiniti “Super G” sports car would use that powertrain.
A hybrid model fits with Infiniti’s stated goals; global president Johan de Nysschen told reporters last year that Infiniti would only build four- and six-cylinder engines in the future because hybrid systems helped produce the same amount of power as traditional V-8s. Adding an expensive halo car is supposed to help improve the luxury brand’s visibility as Infiniti seeks to boost annual global sales to 500,000 units by 2016.
The Infiniti Essence and Emerg-E concepts provide some hints as to the design and powertrain options for a future hybrid halo car, although neither of the concepts has come to fruition thus far. The Essence debuted at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show with slinky bodywork, a 434-hp twin-turbo 3.7-liter V-6, and a 158-hp electric motor/generator. The hybrid system was said to be “capable of vast speeds where conditions allow, zero emissions where they don’t.” Although Nissan claimed it would put a version of the Essence into production in Europe with a diesel-electric powertrain, such a car never materialized.
Infiniti showed the Emerg-E concept at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. Again, it had smooth and stylish bodywork designed to evoke the idea of a halo car. It used a mid-mounted electric drivetrain with a lithium-ion battery pack and a 1.2-liter gasoline engine that could serve as a generator to recharge the batteries. Although Infiniti sent a running prototype to the 2012 Goodwood Festival of Speed, we have yet to see any other evidence that the car is heading to production.