BEIJING — For months, engineers in Japan labored in near secrecy to develop a platform that could take Infiniti into a bold new future.
When they unveiled the prototype last summer to Nissan Motor Co. CEO Hiroto Saikawa, he couldn't stop doing laps around the test track at Nissan's Atsugi technical center.
"He was very enthusiastic," Infiniti President Roland Krueger recalled.
Less than a year later, Nissan's luxury brand says the new architecture will underpin its entire lineup when Infiniti shifts to exclusively electrified powertrains in 2021.
Announcing the platform ahead of last week's Beijing auto show, Krueger said it will be unique to Infiniti and will share only select components with the mass-market Nissan marque.
The platform will be designed to house either of two powertrains that will drive all newly redesigned Infiniti vehicles from 2021: a full electric, battery-driven motor, or Nissan's e-Power range-extender hybrid setup. The platform was previewed in the Q Inspiration Concept unveiled in January at the Detroit auto show to presage a next-gen top-tier sedan.
"In the end we realized we needed a platform that could hold an EV and e-Power and that made us decide to go for a completely new platform," Krueger said. "We will have our setting of the suspension, go for a double wishbone on the front axle and things like this, which is really something that is different from other vehicles we have in the lineup."
Maximum output of the new powertrains should be equivalent up to 400 hp, and range should be at least 311 miles for the full electric variants, Krueger added.
Engineers are debating the EV-only driving range of the e-Power versions, which could get the company's new four-cylinder variable compression turbocharged engine.
The platform will be scalable to cover the Infiniti lineup, except the QX80 full-size SUV.
It will accommodate the variable compression engine and electric motor in the front compartment and another electric motor in the back for all-wheel drive, said Francois Bancon, who leads Infiniti's connectivity and autonomous driving development.
A third motor can be added for more performance, he said.
Going electric is key to Infiniti's growth strategy, especially in China, where government mandates require increasing levels of electrification. Infiniti says that by 2025, more than half of its new vehicles sold in China will be electrified.