Infiniti has given us a taste of its first electric car with the unveiling of the LE Concept this week at the 2012 New York Auto Show.
The concept is for a compact sedan, which is not surprising given its based on the running gear of a Nissan Leaf, but Infiniti is keen to stress that it's been designed with luxury in mind, rather than purely economy.
The LE Concept’s exterior features several Infiniti design cues, such as its double-arch grille and crescent-cut rear-pillar.
However, its lines have been made more swoopy than usual to boost aerodynamic efficiency and maximize space. The vehicle’s overall length stands at 186.4 inches and it features a wheelbase of 106.3 inches.
The powertrain is a familiar one, though slightly more powerful than we're used to. It consists of an electric motor rated at 134 horsepower and 240 pound-feet of torque (the Leaf's motor is only rated at 107 horsepower). Powering this electric motor is a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery housed in the floor. Drive is sent to the front wheels via a single-speed transmission.
To maximize range, the LE Concept has been fitted with regenerative brakes, special aerodynamically-enhanced 19-inch wheels, and low rolling resistance tires. It also features a vehicle-speed-sensitive electric power steering. Like the Leaf, the LE Concept is expected to have a range of about 100 miles on a single charge.
Being a luxury vehicle, Infiniti has installed an advanced wireless charging system on the LE Concept in addition to a regular plug-in system. The system’s non-contact charging is done via inductive energy flow, with a coil safely encased on the garage floor. The primary coil is connected to the energy source, which then creates a magnetic field that excites electric current in a second coil in the LE Concept.
A new Intelligent Park Assist system working in conjunction with Nissan’s Around View camera monitoring system is able to automatically center the car over the wireless charging system, which means owners would simply drive home and let the car park itself. There’s no hassle of fetching a cable with Infiniti’s electric car.
The interior of the LE Concept is typical of an Infiniti vehicle, coming with a double-wave design highlighted by LEDs flowing in two waves from front to back. The center console has a big, iPad-like LCD screen for controlling the vehicle’s infotainment system, while a sculpted shift knob is used to controls the drive system.
The production version of the LE Concept will be assembled at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, Tennessee, which is also responsible for the Nissan Leaf. Infiniti expects it to hit showrooms within the next two years.