WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA – Given Infiniti’s electrification push starting in three years, it may seem like the brand’s new variable-compression turbocharged 4-cyl. will have a short life.

But the two technologies could go hand-in-hand, a top U.S. Infiniti official says.

“We have to imagine this could work in concert with electrification,” Keith St. Clair, director-product strategy and management for Infiniti Americas, tells WardsAuto here during a media preview for the midsize QX50 CUV. “They’re not mutually exclusive by any means.”

Like many luxury brands, Infiniti recently announced it is pursuing electrification as a means of meeting stringent future fuel-economy and emissions standards. It is planning to offer partially and fully electrified powertrains starting in 2021.

St. Clair believes the new 2.0L VC-Turbo 4-cyl. debuting in the new QX50 is “quite readily adaptable to a 48V-assist-type system. Just for the way power delivery (works). But at the end of the day you could use it in combination with electrification in many different ways.”

Infiniti has said it will offer a type of range-extended hybrid in 2021, e-Power, that uses technology derived from Nissan’s Leaf EV. The system will use a small gasoline engine charging a high-output battery. It has not specified the name or displacement of the small gasoline engine.

While the luxury brand has no plans to do so at the moment, St. Clair says variable-compression technology could be transferrable to a V-6 as a way of emulating the power of a V-8. Infiniti is promoting the 4-cyl. VC-Turbo in the QX50 as giving V-6-like output, but with the fuel economy of a 4-cyl.

The mill makes 268 hp and 280 lb.-ft. (380 Nm) of torque in the CUV, with a combined estimated fuel economy of 27 mpg (8.7 L/100 km) in front-wheel-drive versions.

Until 2021, Infiniti plans to install the VC-Turbo in other models in its lineup, but isn’t revealing which ones. Likely candidates include any model with a V-6, which is every model in Infiniti’s U.S. lineup save for the V-8-powered QX80 fullsize SUV.

Sister-brand Nissan also is due to get the VC-Turbo in a low-volume model, Infiniti’s global marketing chief Christian Meunier told WardsAuto in a mid-January interview. While keeping the engine exclusive to Infiniti is ideal, wider application will help parent Nissan recover its investment in the mill, he says. The VC-Turbo, which varies its compression ratio from 8:1 to 14:1, was in development for 20 years at Nissan, with five prototypes done over a 5-year period.

“If I could keep it exclusive that’s fine, but at the same time, we get the costs down, we get economies of scale,” Meunier said. “That’s part of the game. As long as we keep the exclusivity for a period of time (I am happy). We had it first. But for them it’s going to be a small volume. It’s going to be a much bigger volume for us.”

Despite its long gestation period and multitudes of moving parts (Nissan has patented 300 technologies for the VC-Turbo), St. Clair and others say the engine isn’t that much more expensive on piece cost than Nissan’s long-serving V-6 VQ series the VC-Turbo replaces in the QX50.

“It’s going to be more expensive than a comparable 2.0L, 4-cyl., that I can guarantee, (but engineers) were able to design it (efficiently) compared to a similar V-6,” he says.

Shinichi Kiga, chief powertrain engineer-gasoline project group, says the price of the VC-Turbo and Nissan’s 3.7L VQ V-6 in the ’17 QX50 is about the same, due to the VQ’s expensive Variable Valve Event and Lift (VVEL) valve-timing system.

That said, the price of the midsize CUV is rising from ’17, its most recent model year, to the new second-generation ’19 model. The ’19 QX50, on sale in the spring, begins at $36,550 for a base FWD grade, up from the $34,650 starting price of the rear-wheel-drive ’17 entry grade. An AWD ’17 QX50 began at $36,450 compared with a $38,350 starting price for a ’19 AWD model.

Besides the new engine, Infiniti also has added more safety technology, including its ProPilot Assist advanced-driver-assist system that combines adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist and the brand’s direct adaptive-steering system in a single button.