NASHVILLE — Infiniti has talked about an electric vehicle for years, going back to the LE Concept it showcased at the 2012 New York auto show.
That idea — for a luxury EV based on the then-new Nissan Leaf — was scrapped, then reconsidered but never produced. And despite later talk of electrics and hybrid-electrics, Infiniti has confined itself to internal combustion engines.
But a telltale sign is expected to emerge at this month's Detroit auto show that again raises the possibility of electrification.
Infiniti's Q Inspiration Concept, slated to be unveiled in Detroit, appears to set the stage for the next-generation Q70 flagship, due in 2019-20. And one detail that Infiniti revealed about the concept last week is that it features a "shorter hood."
Infiniti provided no specifics, and concepts are often merely exercises to show future design directions. But Infiniti and Nissan have a track record in recent years of delivering production vehicles that are little changed from concepts.
A shorter hood means one thing for certain: a smaller engine compartment.
A smaller engine compartment means a smaller powertrain layout. And for the Infiniti Q70 — traditionally the horsepower star of the brand — smaller engine dimensions would likely translate to an electrified powertrain.
Infiniti further stirred the pot last week when it issued a statement saying the concept "is the first manifestation of Infiniti's new form language for an era of advanced powertrains."
The competitive landscape has changed significantly since 2012 when Infiniti proposed the idea of a luxury EV. Among other changes, Tesla has proved the attraction of luxury EVs. While Infiniti timidly stepped back from that 2012 idea to rethink its global portfolio, other luxury brands are rushing into the field with electrified powertrains.
If the Q concept's shorter hood is a true signal, Infiniti might finally be part of that movement when the next Q70 appears.