Plus, the gas-generated EVs will still be fun to drive.
Infiniti is celebrating its 30th anniversary at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show with the debut of several Edition 30 versions of models like the Q50 and QX50, along with more insight into its electrified future. A lot has changed since the launch of that first Q45 full-size luxury sedan, and like many other manufacturers, the Japanese brand finds itself in the middle of the EV revolution. At its core, the marque is renowned for durability, quality, and reliability, along with being fun to drive.
These are the same values that it hopes to transfer to its electrified lineup, according to Tim Franklin, the Director of Product Planning for Infiniti America. We caught up with him at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show to get more insight into where the marque is heading.
As Infiniti prepares its electrified offerings, the goal is not only to have an EV/hybrid option but to ensure that these vehicles are free of range anxiety and that they remain good to drive. "These are emotional purchases that were made to delight," said Franklin. "And electrification is a really strong vessel to achieve that." Elaborating on customer-readiness for a full-on EV, Franklin said: "Folks aren't really ready to make major adjustments to their lifestyle to accommodate a plug-in vehicle or EV. This gas-generated EV gives us an avenue to deliver the experience without really interrupting their day-to-day life."
Infiniti's gas-generated EVs (an official name for the powertrain that's still in the works) will be for people who aren't ready to go for a full-on EV, but who still want to experience the efficiency gains and unique driving experience that electrification can offer. The system's gas engine generates electrical power stored in a battery, which in turn is transferred to all four wheels via two electric motors. Of course, this means no charging is necessary.
For fans of the traditional sedan, there's also good news, as Franklin doesn't see them being rendered irrelevant by SUVs just yet. "I think there's a place [for sedans] and they've been part of our industry since its inception. I don't think they're going away. I do think there could be an evolution of how they're articulated," said Franklin. "So, the QS Inspiration car is a good example of that."
In an effort to combine the practicality of an SUV with the fun-to-drive appeal of a sedan, the QS Inspiration Concept - with its lift-back design and batteries under the floor - looks like the perfect solution. It also helps that the concept is a menacing sight to behold.
A final telling admission from Franklin? "You use the 'H' word and you'll never hear me say that because, in all of our market research, that word has been owned by vehicles that are really not fun to drive." H is for Hybrid, of course, and we're encouraged that Infiniti's refreshing, all-encompassing approach to hybridization prioritizes the driver as well as the impracticalities in range and charging times that still limit the wide-ranging appeal of a pure EV.