BEIJING — The first electric car for Infiniti will be a sporty sedan produced in China, the Japanese carmaker said Wednesday.
The vehicle will hit the market in around three years, and consumers will get a taste when the company unveils a concept car, dubbed the Qs Inspiration electric sedan, at the Shanghai auto show, Nissan officials said.
"China has the most growth potential for electric vehicles globally, especially in the premium segment," Infiniti Chairman Christian Meunier said in a statement.
The Qs concept, a new perspective on the design and layout of the traditional sports sedan, features an elevated driving position and high-performance electrified all-wheel drive power.
Infiniti said the concept’s all-new flexible architecture has been "developed specifically to accommodate high-performance electrified powertrains, and it enables a reinterpretation of traditional ‘threebox’ sedan design."
Automakers operating in China have to sell more new-energy vehicles, either battery electric cars or plug-in electric hybrids, to comply with official production quotas designed to reduce smog.
"The age of electrification presents us with an opportunity to renew our credentials as an innovative challenger brand, ready to move quickly and decisively in this growing and exciting area of the market,” Meunier said.
It's unclear whether Infiniti plans to produce its first electric vehicle in other markets. An Infiniti spokesman said, however, the brand did not intend to export the e-sedan from China.
The planned e-sedan is part of Infiniti's longer-term strategy to significantly electrify its product lineup.
Infiniti officials have said that from 2021 every model launched will be either an all-electric vehicle or e-Power hybrids, underlining Nissan's previously announced plan to make Infiniti primarily an electrified brand.
Its design, especially the interior, would be significantly different to current models, design chief Karim Habib said. EVs do not have bulky gasoline engines and transmissions, opening up space inside the car.
"It will have a flat floor, and if you are a passenger you can cross your legs or stretch out your legs," Habib told Reuters.
Competition in China's rapidly emerging EV market is heating up amid an onslaught of models from startups such as Nio and WM Motor, as well as those from established automakers.
In the luxury segment, Infiniti will be competing with the Model S and Model X by Tesla Inc., as well as other models due to be launched in coming months by Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Lexus.