Despite reports that the Infiniti Essence concept car from last year’s Geneva motor show is a pointer to a future EV supercar from Nissan, the company has its focus on plug-in starter cars.“Can you do an electric sportscar? Of course you can,” says Nissan's vice-president of product development, Andy Palmer.
“Tesla does it. Do we have a plan to produce a Tesla? No we don’t. “The closest we have is the Infiniti Essence but we don’t have a plan to do it.”
However, Palmer does admit a luxury Infiniti EV is part of Nissan’s plans to roll out four new electric cars, including the Leaf. Palmer says he does not think Nissan will follow the path of the electric Mercedes-Benz SLS with a similar electric supercar.
“I wouldn’t say we’re going ultra-high end. We’re not going to do a Tesla.” Palmer says the first four Nissan electric cars “are relatively conventional because we want to get consumers acquainted with the idea of an electric car without being too radical”.
“Obviously as you move forward there will be different opportunities for different architecture. “The fact you haven’t got a petrol engine allows you do some interesting things with the architecture.”
Palmer says the company would like to exploit the sporting nature of an electric car, which delivers maximum torque from standstill. “The fact that electric cars give you remarkable low down torque, can gives you a quite interesting level of sporty feel,” he says.
“Obviously you can do other things. Something like the Land Glider gives you some clue of the kind of flexibility you get through the technology. “Obviously when you start to think out to the future it gives you an opportunity to push the boundaries.”
Palmer says there is not one “silver bullet” to alternative powertrains into the future. Apart from electric cars, Nissan plans to continue to roll out hybrids, both conventional and plug-in.
It has also just showcased a DSG-style seven-speed gearbox in its newest Infiniti M hybrid in Japan and will continue to extract efficiencies out of its existing petrol and diesel engines.
Nissan also plans to continue downsizing its conventional internal combustion engines without losing performance, as Volkswagen has done with its acclaimed Twincharger engines in its smaller hatches.
The supercharged three-cylinder engine in the new Micra is the first example of downsizing for the brand. Nissan sources suggest the Essence style will be seen in the new Infiniti G37 coupe which is set to arrive around 2012.
With an overall length of 4700mm and wheelbase of 2200mm, it looks almost production ready, with a fully fitted cabin in leather and suede, including tailor-made luggage. Although the show car was powered by a 450kW twin-turbo 3.7-litre V8 a production version could carry Nissan’s newest hybrid technology from the M range.