MONTEREY, Calif. -- Infiniti vehicles will look lighter and thinner as new and facelifted designs appear through this decade, starting with the next G series in the 2014 model year.
“We want to look leaner, more athletic,” said Shiro Nakamura, global design chief of Nissan Motor Co., which includes Nissan and Infiniti brands.
“I’m happy with our designs today,” Nakamura said in an interview here at the weekend’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. “Infiniti has a very distinctive look now, in the front grille and in the shape of the body. But I’d like to make it a little younger and more athletic, and thin it down.”
Nakamura, who has spent more than a decade crafting Infiniti’s look, said the shift will reflect the brand’s desire to appeal to younger buyers around the world in the coming years. He said he believes the design tweaks also will help Infiniti communicate fuel efficiency, something the Japanese luxury brand is seeking with new hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric powertrains.
Consumers at the high-end Pebble Beach event saw the first expression of Nakamura’s plan -- a plug-in-hybrid concept called the Emerg-E. Executed by one of Nakamura’s North American stylists, Randy Rodriguez, the Emerg-E is an architectural departure for Infiniti. It is a design exercise for a mid-engine sports car and uses a powertrain that will run 30 miles on pure electric power and yet accelerate from 0 to 60 in four seconds.
The sides of the concept’s body are tailored inward, which also helps accentuate the muscular stance of the rear quarters.
“The next G will see a similar direction,” Nakamura said. “We avoided making it a wedge shape, which is typical of mid-engine cars. We don’t want a wedge shape for Infiniti.”
The G sedan and coupe represent a large part of sales for Infiniti, which is on a push to establish itself as a global luxury brand. In the United States through July of this year, Infiniti sold 36,114 G units, a 10 percent increase from the year-earlier period and 55 percent of the brand’s U.S. sales for the first seven months of 2012.
The Emerg-E concept’s carbon fiber body is impractical for a production vehicle because of the high cost of carbon fiber, Nakamura acknowledged. But he said that Infiniti will put lighter-weight materials to use in the coming years -- including more aluminum -- to help bring down vehicle weight.