Nissan’s Andy Palmer: Infiniti EV Was Delayed To Wait For New Tech

By · July 18, 2013

Infiniti LE

Infiniti boss Johan de Nysschen, who is skeptical about the potential of electric cars, announced in early June that the first all-electric car from Nissan’s luxury brand would be delayed, and could get scrapped altogether.

Andy Palmer, Nissan executive vice-president, is now putting a different spin on Nissan’s decision to delay or kill an all-electric Infiniti sedan. Unveiled as the Infiniti LE concept at the 2012 New York Auto Show and previously promised as a 2015 model, Palmer told Automotive News Europe yesterday that the delay of Infiniti’s first luxury electric car is driven by Nissan’s desire to keep up with the latest EV technology.

When de Nysschen—who had previously called Chevrolet Volt buyers “idiots” in 2009 when he was head of Audi in the U.S.—spoke to the automotive press last month, he said that the future of the LE was yet to be decided, adding that he had introduced “a whole bunch of additional considerations” to any production plans since becoming head of Infiniti last year. Some of those considerations included existing battery technology, a perceived lack of charging infrastructure, and low sales of electric cars.

Nissan’s Palmer, on the other hand, is a little more upbeat about the future for the Infiniti LE. The delays, he said, were purely technologically-driven. “There are some interesting advances in electric technology we hadn’t anticipated when we showed the LE, which, by delaying a little bit, we can incorporate into the car,” said Palmer.

One such advance, according to Palmer, is in lithium-ion battery packs. When it debuted, the LE concept was based on Nissan’s existing LEAF electric car technology, including its lithium-ion battery pack. With the LEAF now entering its third year of sales, its battery technology has been updated with new battery chemistry and cell construction. By delaying the production of the Infiniti LE Sedan, Palmer said, Nissan will give it a superior battery pack, which would be “well worth the wait.”

Infiniti might have also considered the competitive landscape in delaying the Infiniti LE. In the niche market of premium electric cars, Californian automaker Tesla dominates with its larger Model S electric sedan. The features of the Infiniti LE pale in comparison with the Model S's 250-mile range, and the fastest charging technology of any production electric car today. While the LE will be priced below the Tesla Model S, and more in line with the soon-to-be-launched BMW i3, the fight for luxury customers seeking an electric car is becoming more competitive. That's ample reason for Infiniti to pause before launching its first electric car.

Comments

· · 1 year ago

Yeah, they won't admit it but they realized that if they released it as currently designed it would have been a laughing stock compared to the Tesla Model S. So they pulled it.

· · 1 year ago

@Spec,

That interpretation does indeed fit in very well with both seemingly conflicting stories.

I still am hoping that there's some truth to what Andy is saying - that there is something promising coming up very soon, and that the LE was simply delayed (not cancelled) and will take advantage of it, maybe in 2016 or so.

· · 1 year ago

Nissan needs a better battery to have a chance to compete against Tesla. They can't leverage that battery pack which is NOT good in the hot climate in the Infiniti. Not to mention the slow performance and limited range won't fly in the luxury EV market either....

· · 1 year ago

Delayed to better tech?!?! BS, Infiniti/Nissan could easily double stack the battery (or utilize some trunk space) for a 40-48kwh battery, use the same electric drivetrain (just dont dumb it down like the 2013 LEAF's) and keep the 6.6kWh charger standard with ChAdeMo standard and youll have a 150 mil range EV... Nissan needs something to compete with Cadillac's ELR....

no difficult, car could cost around 45-46k and sell like hotcakes!

Just my $.02.

· · 1 year ago

Yeah, you'd think that Infinity would have at least a plug-in-hybrid by now. A Leaf platform with 24 kwh battery, plus a small gas range extender/battery warmer/cabin heater I'd think would be a winner, especially in cold climates. I would hope someone somewhere would do something besides the Volt.

The Volt ( or lookalike ELR) is fine as it is, but some people would also purchase the same platform as a small SUV , station wagon, or small pickup truck. You could almost imagine a '1953 style corvette', back when the car was just a nice roadster and not a steroid machine, based on the volt platform.

Luxury brands could take the basic platform but put a bigger battery in it, since in a larger car there would be plenty of room for it.

GM for one has done the engineering work, so it boggles the mind to wonder why they're not exploiting their expense.

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