Infiniti has ditched plans — at least for now — to bring a promising series-hybrid technology to the U.S. The decision could delay the luxury brand's electrification plans in its biggest market.
The technology, now popular in Japan under the name e-Power, is a central pillar of parent Nissan Motor Co.'s electrification strategy. Introduced in Japan in late 2016, e-Power uses a battery-powered electric motor to drive a vehicle's wheels, and a gasoline engine to charge the battery.
But after talking up e-Power's benefits for years, Infiniti informed U.S. dealers it will hold off on bringing the technology to the U.S.
An Infiniti spokesman confirmed the decision, noting it was part of a "reevaluation and reset" of the brand's product and powertrain strategy.
"We took into account market trends, the regulatory environment and most importantly, customer preferences," the spokesman, Kyle Bazemore, told Automotive News. "We will prioritize fully electric vehicles as our initial electrified offering in the Americas, along with advanced internal combustion-powered vehicles."
Infiniti dealers said they were told by the manufacturer that e-Power did not deliver the performance required to be competitive in the U.S. The cost of implementing the technology also apparently was a consideration.
"They couldn't bring it in at the right cost," Infiniti National Dealer Advisory Board Chairman Ed Lennon Jr. said. "I don't think it helped them with their CAFE rating."
Early tests gave Infiniti executives hope for bringing e-Power stateside, said Dallas Fox, executive manager at Tim Dahle Infiniti in suburban Salt Lake City. "But once they got further along, they found out that it wasn't going to be able to deliver," Fox said. "They put all this money into e-Power and it's not going to make the cut."