Infiniti unveiled the new LE Concept at the 2012 New York Auto Show. The concept was built as a luxury version of the already very successful Nissan Leaf and previews a production version that is expected to reach Infiniti showrooms in near-similar form within the next two years as Infiniti’s first zero emission luxury sedan.
The concept was designed as a luxury car rather than an electric vehicle. It features the usual Infiniti design cues, such as its double-arch grille and crescent-cut rear-pillar, and is about the same size as the Infiniti G Sedan. This was done to illustrate that just because it’s an electric car, doesn’t mean that it has to be small.
"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."
Hit the jump to read more about the Infiniti LE Concept.
The new LE concept features design elements that we have already seen on concepts like the Infiniti Essence and the EMERG-E. These elements include a double-arch grille and crescent-cut rear-pillar, a strong shoulder line, high rear deck, rear aero diffuser, and aero side fin spoilers with integrated illumination.
At the front of the concept there is a large front grille with solid finisher and a charge port hidden under the illuminated center Infiniti emblem. The concept has also been equipped with LED headlights and taillights.
"The LE Concept exterior is shaped to maximize 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 interior of the Infiniti LE Concept features the company’s usual double-wave layout, which flows seamlessly from instrument panel to the center console and down the cabin sides. The entire car is highlighted by special soft LED Infiniti EV Blue lighting that flows in two waves from front to back. On the center cluster, there is an innovative connected twin display powered by an Intel Atom processor. The twin display will offer Infiniti LE drivers access to the kind of ride-oriented information needed by the driver.
The seats were inspired by the "Eriashi" (collar) of a Japanese kimono and are covered in a suede-and-mesh fabric with violet accents, and semi-aniline leather sides. The concept is fully loaded with elements such as the Infiniti Personal Assistant 24-hour concierge service, navigation, and POI search.
A unique feature in the Infiniti LE is that the batteries are placed under the compartment floor - a measure that was taken to increase interior space, provide a low vehicle center of gravity for enhanced handling, and maximize trunk room.
The Infiniti LE’s electric motor delivers a peak torque of 240 lb-ft that’s instantly available at all times. The electric system takes its power from laminated 24 kWh lithium-ion (Li-ion) design with a ChaDeMo DC50kW quick charger.
The LE was built on an e-platform with rigid-mounted battery frame and has been equipped with front independent strut/rear torsion beam suspension with double-piston shock absorbers.
"A luxury car for a new generation of sustainable luxury buyers must not compromise on performance. Buyers want ‘green,’ but won’t settle for any aspect of the driving experience being less than that of their current luxury vehicles," explained Poore. "For those who have never driven a modern EV, the immediate full-torque response when you step on the accelerator is amazing. It empowers you, without overpowering you – though the temptation is always there to leave drivers in the next lane behind."
When Can We Get One?
A production version of the LE concept is expected to be be unveiled within the next two years as Infiniti’s first zero emission luxury sedan.
There are plenty of electric vehicles to serve as viable competitors for the Infiniti LE, but the LE may be the first to combine an electric powertrain with an impressive level of luxury. The LE is a luxurious version of the Nissan Leaf - a model that shortly after its debut has become a very successful model.
Impressive level of luxury
Blue lighted interior is aesthetically pleasing
Only a concept for now