GENEVA – Infiniti introduces a new concept car at the auto show here, an extended-range electric vehicle named the Emerge.
While the sleek model may be only a concept, at least three copies will be built, says Bernard Loire, Infiniti vice president-Europe.
Two running prototypes will be constructed in the U.K. this year so they can be track-tested to prove the announced performance figures.
Loire says the sleek car will have a range of 30 miles (48 km) on electricity alone and 300 miles (483 km) when the electricity is generated by a 3-cyl. gasoline engine.
The sports car is a mid-engine design; in this case, it is mostly batteries and two 300-kW (402-hp) electric motors that are positioned midship. It has a calculated 0-62 mph (100 km/h) acceleration of 4 seconds.
Whether or not the car is produced, its flowing design elements will influence other Infinitis, says chief designer Shiro Nakamura.
A side view of the car shows a sort of double-arch element, as well as a crescent-cut C-pillar. Infiniti also is learning about carbon fiber, used for the car’s body.
Theluxury brand is growing in Europe, albeit from a small base. Last year, Western European sales reached 4,600 vehicles, up 44% from 2010. In Eastern Europe, including Russia, demand grew 50% to 7,500 units. In the Middle East, sales rose from 4,400 in 2010 to 4,600.
The big seller in Europe is the FX. This year, after a season of sponsoring the Red Bull Formula 1 team, Infiniti is making available 200 copies of a special-edition 420-hp Sebastian Vettel FX50 that already is sold out, Loire says.
Last year, Infiniti added a diesel engine to its lineup, considerably expanding sales potential. But the real growth probably will wait until the 2015 arrival of a small car that would compete against the3-Series.
That model is being developed jointly with, part of the - -Daimler accord, and will share its platform with the next Mercedes A-Class. The small Infiniti will follow the ideas behind the Etherea concept shown in Geneva last year.
The brand is preparing for its future by slowly expanding its dealer base. It had 45 dealers in Europe last year and will have 55 by the end of 2012.