An all-electric luxury model under development for Infiniti will lend itself to the performance image that Infiniti managers have been carefully honing for the past several years, the brand's North American sales boss says.
"You can really turn up the performance of those things," says Ben Poore, Infiniti Business Unit vice president. "The model will fit perfectly with the performance standards that we've set for the brand. It's going to be a very cool vehicle."
Poore declined to discuss specifics about the model except to say it will be a unique new global model that will be sold in the United States.
Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn revealed the plan for the Infiniti model during the Tokyo Motor Show in October, calling it "a compact, high-performance, four-seat luxury Infiniti with zero emissions."
For several years, Infiniti designers and planners have been sharpening the brand's fuzzy image to compete directly against more performance-oriented European brands such as BMW and Audi.
A new 2011 Infiniti M sedan being unveiled next month in Los Angeles will claim more standard horsepower than competing models from Mercedes-Benz and BMW.
Infiniti executives have been wary of any product change that might detract from the brand's image.
Ghosn's announcement last month indicates how rapidly the industry view of alternative-power technologies is changing. Just a year or two ago, the general wisdom was that electric drives, should they ever become commercially viable, would be more appropriate for entry-level segments and small urban cars.
But Nissan is now developing three purely electric models: the five-passenger Nissan Leaf, an Infiniti and a small van. All three are coming to the United States.
Separately, local authorities in Rutherford County, Tenn., voted on Nov. 12 to approve the issuance of up to $2.5 billion in industrial development bonds to provide tax incentives and funds for new factory equipment to Nissan. The automaker is preparing to construct a lithium ion battery plant and Leaf assembly line at its operations in Smyrna, in Rutherford County. The plant will be able to turn out 150,000 cars a year.
That plant will come on line in 2012. Nissan has not revealed when the Infiniti model will reach the market.