2014 Paris Motor Show highlights

Nissan Leaf gets a fancy brother: The Infiniti LE

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April 6, 2012

The Infiniti LE is more than just a concept; it will be Infiniti's first zero emissions ve...

The Infiniti LE is more than just a concept; it will be Infiniti's first zero emissions vehicle

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The first complaint about current mainstream electric vehicle options is that they don't offer enough range. The second is that they only come in small and, some might say, unattractive packages like the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi i-Miev. Infiniti may not have solved the former problem, but it's done its best to solve the latter with the LE concept. The concept gives the Nissan Leaf a sportier, more upscale brother.

Infiniti has shown us a few takes on sporty green cars in the Essence and E-Merge, but it is a lot more serious about this one. In debuting the model at this week's New York Auto Show, Infiniti said that this is a "production intent" concept and will be on the market within two years. The company also said its "near similar form" to the production model, so it's clear this isn't just a fanciful EV concept designed to attract show goers to Infiniti's booth.

In designing the LE, Infiniti set out to make an Infiniti that was electric, not an electric car with an Infiniti label. Key toward that goal was showing that "zero emission does not have to mean small." Rather than a small hatchback, Infiniti made a proper, fastback-style sedan that's about the same length as its current G Sedan. From that basic principle, Infiniti added signature design cues like the double-arch grille and crescent-cut rear pillar. It sculpted a defined belt line that provides a sense of speed and power. The LE may not be nearly as dramatic as the Essence or E-merge, but it's definitely lighter on the eyes than a Leaf.

The LE will allow Nissan to expand the use of EV technology developed for the Leaf

While it hasn't solved the limited range dilemma, Infiniti has done its best to get every mile by keeping the LE as aerodynamic as possible. Specific equipment used for the goal includes the high rear deck, aero-treated wheels, aero rear diffuser, aero fin front spoiler and aero side fin spoilers. The car's drag coefficient is 0.25.

Infiniti hasn't given all the details on the car's powertrain, but it's most certainly adapted from the Nissan Leaf. The electric motor puts out 240 lb-ft of torque and provides "impressive EV acceleration." The 24 kWh lithium-ion battery can be recharged by way of standard outlet, DC fast charging and Nissan's upcoming wireless charging pad.

Inside, the next-generation Infiniti Connection system keeps drivers in touch with the outside world. The system is controlled by way of twin-screen display, which delivers driver-centric information like navigation and points-of-interest search. The system also helps the driver in finding charging stations, syncing his calendar and pre-heating or pre-cooling the vehicle.

The battery pack is located under the passenger compartment floor, opening up the interior for comfort. Soft "Infiniti EV Blue" LED lighting flows from front to back. The leather-trimmed seats have sued and mesh fabric.

We're guessing the production version will lose the icy, space-age-y silver paint job and gratuitous blue LED lighting, but Infiniti Americas Vice President Ben Poore said that it will maintain the "zero emission powertrain, advanced telematics, cutting-edge design, advanced connected services and premium appointments" of the concept. It should be a nice addition to the EV market.

Source: Infiniti

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
13 Comments

I have always considered these designs to be rather ugly. There are just too many features that don't blend together. I would be interested to know if this is the result of trying to create a new fashion or whether this is what the people want?

jonoxn
6th April, 2012 @ 10:20 pm PDT

Killer looking!

Mike Hamilton
7th April, 2012 @ 11:54 am PDT

Wouldnt it go more if it had less in it? I find points of interest the old fashion way by looking out the window "hey look at that" waiting still for the aerodynamic ev version of the model t. When are car makers gonna stop making bloat mobiles and start getting back to basics? I really like the tesla roadster but only if it could seat 4

MasterG
7th April, 2012 @ 01:38 pm PDT

"...they only come in small and, some might say, unattractive packages like the Nissan Leaf ..." says the guy with a moose head trophy mounted next to his Elvis velvet painting. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Biodiversivist
7th April, 2012 @ 05:28 pm PDT

Jonoxn is right, too many competing curves create a swoopy look but one with lots of dissonance...this car looks like a bicycle helmet. How about taking the designer's commission and using it to take a thousand pounds out of the car? Exchange some wheelbase, cushion thickness, replace sheet metal with carbon panels, and look at every fastener and component for fat. Shrink the whole package while keeping the interior cubes, drill lightening holes, shrink components and reduce the gauge where it isn't needed. Give electro-Lexus owners something they could really use; another 100 miles of range.

Bruce Curtis
7th April, 2012 @ 07:14 pm PDT

The Prius C concept looked phenomenal only to be messed-up for no good reason. I hope the same thing will not happen here...but it probably will. I like blue LEDs but defiantly needs a brightness control.

Mindbreaker
7th April, 2012 @ 08:59 pm PDT

From one extreme to another.

The Nissan Leaf is too small and is styled like an escape pod. Now they are producing an overly-styled luxury electric that few will be able to afford.

Why not just make a mid market electric? What is wrong with that?

It needs to look like a mainstream car and it should not be stuffed with expensive bells and bloat (like MasterG says) so people can get the benefit of electric without paying for stuff they don't want.

phydeaux
7th April, 2012 @ 09:43 pm PDT

MasterG. The Tesla is based on the Lotus Elise. Tiny car, it will never seat four.

Car makers have serious issues with infrastructure, so it's unlikely they will ever break out of the box.

VoiceofReason
8th April, 2012 @ 07:29 am PDT

I just totally gagged seeing the photo of this after the Jag F type.

Dennis Roberts
8th April, 2012 @ 09:09 pm PDT

Seriously, how hard is it to realize that a VAN would have all the necessary space to put enough batteries to go more than 500kms on a charge??!!

Also, all camping sites have electric hook-ups.

So WhyTF have Nissan not done a midsize NV300 electro-camper with a daily driving range of about 500kms????!!!!!!!! (btw I have van-camped for years and hardly ever do more than 350 in a day...why would you when you are on holiday??!!)

Eh?

Eh?

Eh?

So Nissan just call me, and I will product manage the E-NV300 campervan's worldwide development/launch for you!!!!

Sincerely,

sutski123!

sutski123
10th April, 2012 @ 03:36 am PDT

Yeah, I'm sure an electric camper van will help Nissan sell enough units to pay for the development of electric powertrain components.

Oh wait, not that many people have any use at all for a $65,000 EV camper.

Joe F
10th April, 2012 @ 11:51 am PDT

But have you priced this crazy thing? As far as I'm concerned (and 75% of all previous hybrid owners) this e-car stuff is just not worth the time, effort or money to pursue...

Ed
10th April, 2012 @ 11:02 pm PDT

They could have improved range or comfort and they chose comfort? Wow! They just don't get it. I want to drive for 7-10 hours, then stop to sleep & charge. I'll bet the first car to offer that will be a success without subsidies.

I would buy the Tesla roadster if the price was around $30K. I am 70 and can't wait 2 more decades for them to build it light & aerodynamic.

voluntaryist
22nd April, 2012 @ 03:54 am PDT
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