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Infiniti LE: 'On Again, Off Again' EV Confirmed To Follow Q30 and QX30 Photo:
Infiniti LE EV - Patent Leak Photo:
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Tim O'Brien | Sep, 24 2014 | 0 Comments

Infiniti Cars Australia has confirmed that development is continuing on the Nissan Leaf-based plug-in electric vehicle, originally revealed in 2012 as the Infiniti LE Concept.

This would indicate that news of a release date, and even the appearance of a pre-production model, may not be far away.

The ‘on again, off again’ LE project has been the subject of some speculation with earlier reports that development had stalled on the direction of former Infiniti global boss Johan de Nysschen.

Those reports were later contradicted by influential US industry paper, Automotive News, but, until now, there had been no confirmation from within Infiniti as to the official status of the project.

However, Australian Infiniti Cars General Manager of Communications Peter Fadeyev confirmed to TMR that the project is alive.

“The Infiniti LE Concept, as shown at previous international motor shows, remains in development," Mr Fadeyev said.

"Market release timing and final model specifics will be announced closer to the time of its release."

While Automotive News has reported that production is not expected to begin until late 2017 or early 2018, it may be somewhat earlier.

And the reason is Daimler AG, Mercedes Benz.

The upcoming Infiniti Q30, due in this market according to Mr Fadeyev in 2016 (not 2017 as some have reported), sits on Benz’s A-Class platform.

The QX30, expected to closely follow the Q30, sits on the same flexible, modular platform. It will, in other words, likely share GLA underpinnings.

And, Infiniti’s Q50 2.0 litre turbo - which we drove and on which we can provide some very good news when the embargo lifts Friday - uses the same Mercedes-developed 2.0 litre turbo as found in the C-Class.

But there is a quid pro quo in the Nissan/Renault alliance with Daimler AG.

Above: the Q30 should be here by 2016.
Above: the Q30 should be here by 2016.

Nissan/Renault, an Infiniti insider confirmed to TMR, is to share its EV, hybrid and battery technology with Daimler AG for use in Mercedes products in return.

While advanced in hybrid technology, Mercedes has partnered previously with Tesla Motors for its B-Class EV and the earlier Smart ForTwo EV.

With BMW and Audi apparently stealing a march on Mercedes with the i3, i8, and E-tron models, Mercedes will be keen to respond.

That’s where Nissan/Renault’s advanced EV development will come in. And it won’t be waiting three years for the next-gen plug-in EV technology promised with the LE.

The market is ‘electrifying’ far too quickly for a company like Mercedes to give its premium competitors a head start.

Nissan and Mercedes are expected to partner on electric tech to take on Audi's e-tron models and BMW's i range.
Nissan and Mercedes are expected to partner on electric tech to take on Audi's e-tron models and BMW's i range.

Which, in this unusual world of strange bedfellows, will also speed the Infiniti LE to market.

Perhaps, given the “chatter” that seems to be flowing a little more freely about the product, Infiniti might have a surprise in store at Los Angeles, if not the Paris Motor Show.

Will we see it in Australia?

Perhaps not until more is done on EV infrastructure if comments from Nissan Australia boss Richard Emery are to be a guide.

MORE: Nissan: Govt ‘Needs To Do More’ On EVs
MORE: LE Electric Sedan Revealed In Patent Leak?
MORE News & Reviews: Infiniti LE | Infiniti | Electric Vehicles

 
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