We had the honor of being personally invited by Infiniti to be part of a year long panel titled the EV Insiders which will follow the development of Infiniti’s much anticipated first-to-the-market luxury EV, titled simply the “LE Concept” (ie “Luxury Electric”). The first event takes place this week in New York during the auto show, as the brand ramps up to unveil the concept form of the soon-to-be-produced vehicle tomorrow (11:30 am EST). But before the official unveiling, Nissan and Infiniti Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura couldn’t stand the suspense, and lifted the curtain of the enshrouded vehicle to give the world a burlesque peek of his 4-door beauty. And we are the first in the world to post these images.
It’s important to underscore that the Infiniti LE is a fully electric plug-in vehicle, with no petroleum burned at all. And while performance details are completely hush hush, we were privy to a number of details about the much hyped vehicle which we’ll share. First off, Nakamura explains the LE stays true to the brand’s new design language which was declared with authority with its Essence concept unveiled in 2009. And much of that vocabulary is employed by the LE: the crescent “C” section, the “double-wave” form of the interior dash, and the double-arch grill — which we’ve seen employed on the production M and very recently released JX. Infiniti’s design language is heavily influenced by nature, as opposed to parent brand Nissan which Nakamura himself referred to as more “robotic”, using the GT-R and Juke as examples of this more machine-inspired form. Specifically Shiro stated that trees, waves, mountains, leaves and the female form all directly inspired the shapely LE, and Infiniti’s design language in general.
It was also defined by two major priorities: reducing weight and reducing drag. To affect the former, lightweight materials have been used throughout such as aluminum body panels substituting steel. Because of the increased difficulty of stamping aluminum, this caused many headaches for Nakamura’s design team. But what Infiniti wants to make 100% clear is that the LE is a luxury car first, and a sustainable car second. Meaning, in no way will Infiniti ignore the expectations of what a luxury buyer requires. So the emphasis will be on crafting a car of ultimate comfort and aesthetic pleasure, with the added bonus of zero emissions and complete sustainability in its drivetrain. No hybrid here.
With top tier luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co., Dior and Hermes — as well as 5-star hotels such as the LEED gold certified Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas — implementing serious sustainability goals into their DNA and corporate behavior, the leap of a luxury car brand into the pure EV “green” market does not seem like a far-fetched, or isolated, ethos. In fact Infiniti sees luxury and sustainability working in compliment. As Nissan Global President & CEO Carlos Ghosn stated in the auto show’s keynote address, he fully expects 10% of all cars sold by 2020 to be totally electric (not hybrid), and he sees Infiniti’s LE as the forbear of the luxury vehicles that will be leading this segment. A very bullish prediction, but if gas prices keep rising closer to the $5/gallon mark, the more and more realistic his prognostication becomes.
The Infiniti LE will make its official premier tomorrow at 11:30 am, at which time we’ll have full look at the concept vehicle, as well as a gallery of interior and detail shots. But for now, enjoy the sneak peek pics we have here. See you tomorrow at 11:30 am EST sharp!