(continued from the previous page)
Infiniti Emerg-e was designed under the direction of Senior Vice President and
Chief Creative Officer Shiro Nakamura. While some of Nissan Global design bases
were involved in this project, the overall design development were mainly led by
Nissan Design Europe (NDE), Paddington, London, and built by Nissan's European
Technical Centre (NTCE), Cranfield.
It's a highly significant car for Infiniti because it advances on many fronts.
It is the first mid-ship sports car the marque has ever produced. It takes the
Infiniti design vocabulary in a fresh, intriguing and convincing new direction.
It stretches Infiniti's already accomplished expertise in the areas of electric
vehicles and alternative propulsion systems. And it will provoke debate about
the form an Infiniti flagship should take.
Infiniti Emerg-e is also unusual for being a project part-funded by the UK
Government's Technology Strategy board, a development that has significantly
deepened the resource that the brand can draw on for the creation of new models,
while lending this project an intriguingly international flavor.
The desire to stretch Infiniti's knowledge of electric vehicles lead to the idea
of a range-extender electric vehicle, and just such a machine began to be
developed in Japan. An unexpected opportunity to advance the project through
Britain's Technology Strategy Board (TSB) - whose mission is to speed the
passage of low carbon vehicles to UK roads - provided the chance to access new
technologies and work with a variety of organizations. These included
universities, suppliers and OEMs, this facet of the development broadening the
scope and ambition of Infiniti Emerg-e. The opportunity to work in a consortium
revealed that fellow member Lotus Engineering was also developing a
range-extender electric sports car, the two companies deciding that it made
sense to collaborate. That decision, explained Bancon, was eased by the fact
that "Nissan (and Infiniti) have had a relationship with Lotus for 10 years,
mostly about methodology. We have never agreed a contract to do a car with
Lotus, but we have done many studies together, utilizing their additional
resource when ours was taken," he said. Further benefits included co-funding of
the Infiniti Emerg-e project from the TSB, and access to a range of highly
A key feature of the Infiniti Emerg-e Concept is that it contains a blend of
technologies and solutions that have not previously been tried, as required by
the TSB funding rules. The sharing of several components by other members of the
consortium is also an element of the TSB initiative, the aim being to promote
developmental economies of scale, although the approach to their deployment
"A key aim of the TSB approach is to develop projects that are closer to
commercial reality," said Jerry Hardcastle, Vice President Vehicle Design and
Development, the Nissan Group Technology Centre Europe and senior member of the
UK's Automotive Council. "So there's more of a chance of the technology making
it to market."
That chance will gain extra momentum when Infiniti produces two fully
functioning Infiniti Emerg-e demonstrators in the next step of this highly
unusual and innovative concept development program.
Although Infiniti has only been on sale in Europe since 2008, the brand made a
big impact when it was launched in the U.S. in 1989 as Nissan's luxury marque.
From the very beginning the Infiniti name has symbolized "Inspired Performance,"
the ownership experience painstakingly tailored to combine these qualities with
exceptional customer care. Those first two decades culminated with the 2009
unveiling of the Essence, an elegantly sensuous-looking high-performance coupe.
Apart from making a very favorable impact that resonates to this day, Essence
was the first of a trilogy of concept cars showcasing the three core strands
that characterize Infiniti's design values. The second concept was ETHEREA, and
Infiniti Emerg-e is the third.
This dramatic trilogy of show cars embodies the three strands that form the
foundation of Infiniti's Design Values. The elegantly spare muscularity of their
bodywork is inspired by the Energetic Force to be found in nature. Their
Seductive Aura is also immediately apparent, from the sensuous, hourglass
squeeze of Essence's cockpit to the graceful, unbroken arching of Etherea's
roofline and the subtle, cloth-like folds of Infiniti Emerg-e's haunches. Yet
the drama in the lines of all three show cars is tempered by the qualities of
Dignified Intelligence that suffuses all Infinitis.
The concepts also bear a unique set of highly individual hallmarks that
characterize an Infiniti. These include a radiator grille elegantly book-ended
by a double arch and Infiniti's highly distinctive crescent-cut rear pillar.
Just as distinctive are the headlights, which are redolent of the eyes of a
human, this shape reinforced by a fine eyebrow line of LEDs.
Infiniti Emerg-e takes the brand's design vocabulary in an exciting new
direction, this being the first time that it has been applied to a mid-ship
"Infiniti has always had rear-wheel drive styling," said Nakamura. "The FX is a
good example - it has a long hood, short rear deck, it is not wedged and has a
very horizontal movement. But a mid-ship layout usually has a different attitude
- it's slightly wedged, so that's a challenge for us."
That challenge was all the greater, said Nakamura, because a mid-engined car was
never a part of the original plan for Infiniti or its design philosophy.
"Designing a mid-ship car sounds very exciting, but at the same time there's
even less freedom because of the package constraints and the distribution of
weight. Because of the FX and Essence, we have already established an Infiniti
look and proportion. Also, we now have front-wheel drive cars with ETHEREA.
We've got to go beyond our existing proportions, so this is a good experience."
That experience began with the creation of three-quarter scale model proposals
from Infiniti studios in Japan, the UK and California. The winning design, the
work of California-based Infiniti designer Randy Rodriguez, was recreated as a
full-size clay model constructed at Nissan Design Europe's Paddington studio.
The aim has been to combine the brand's characteristic long nose with the
heavier volume at the rear, while maintaining what Nakamura calls "the emotional
flow of an Infiniti." Unlike most mid-engined cars, Infiniti Emerg-e is not a
wedged design, although there is considerable energy in its shape.
"We wanted to make it elegant yet dynamic, to show graceful power," said
Nakamura. "Mid-ship cars are usually more crude - this is like silk wrapping
over the wheels."
Taisuke Nakamura, NDE Design Manager, explains that, "The volume of Infiniti
Emerg-e starts from the badge and the grille and flows like a stream from here
all the way to the chopped tail." This fluency of line is all the more effective
for the extra length grafted into the Infiniti Emerg-e platform ahead of the
windscreen, the fast angle of its A-pillars and the subtly flexing curve in the
upper surfaces of Infiniti Emerg-e's flanks, a characteristic of every Infiniti.
So is the crescent-cut sculpting of the car's rear pillar - fast-becoming a key
Infiniti signature - which gives Infiniti Emerg-e a distinctively shaped
The furl of the neck of a Kimono is the inspiration for Infiniti Emerg-e's
subtly voluptuous lateral air intakes, explained Nakamura, adding that he did
not want to see the crude grille of an air intake.
Bold headlights also identify Infiniti Emerg-e, their crescent-shaped LED
illuminations visible during day and night. It is a future Infiniti design cue
that was first shown on the ETHEREA concept. The penetrating quality of these
lamps and their eyebrows is suggestive of human insight, a product of Infiniti's
Dignified Intelligence approach. The double arch grille also resonates with the
flowing shape of the Infiniti Emerg-e's shapely rear wings. The crowning visual
highlight is the dramatic liquid silver paint that envelops this leanly
tensioned, low, wide and more masculine Infiniti. Underlining the theme of
Energetic Force, this liquid metal paint emphasizes the Infiniti Emerg-e's
sculptural, fluid lines.
"We're moving the design language forward," said Nakamura. "We're still in the
same form language as the Essence - elegant, sensual, but taut and sharp - and
now that we're confident, we can go beyond front engine, rear-wheel drive
proportions," he concluded. He also said that "designing a sports car is always
"Silence is the new vroom," said Bancon of Infiniti Emerg-e's potent and
technologically advanced drivetrain. "It is elegantly silent, and responsible."
Infiniti Emerg-e is a range-extender electric vehicle, and it is propelled at
all times by a pair of 201bhp (150kW) EVO ELECTRIC motors driving the rear
wheels. These advanced motors direct their power via a single speed (XTRAC)
transmission to create what is effectively an open differential, this
arrangement significantly reducing driveline friction losses. A quartet of
inverters controls the motors and their energy regeneration role under braking,
the recovered power directed to a lithium-ion battery mounted behind the seats.
The battery can be recharged from a mains power supply (domestic and
fast-charge) and stores sufficient energy to propel the Infiniti Emerg-e for 30
urban miles, at which point the on-board petrol engine starts up to act as a
generator. This light, ultra-compact, Lotus-engineered three-cylinder
1.2-liter35kW engine has been purpose-designed for its range-extending role. It
operates between crank speeds of 1500-4000 rpm, producing peak power at only
The Infiniti Emerg-e high performance, low emission propulsion system is
installed within a lightweight, extruded aluminum chassis unit to which
ultra-light carbon fiber panels are attached, Infiniti keen to explore the
potential for this material in future low production volume models. Given that
it provides a 20 percent strength gain in tandem with a 50 percent reduction in
weight compared to the sheet molded composite often used in sports car
construction, it's easy to see why Infiniti Emerg-e's carbon upper body
construction is a major contributor to the car's 3,523-pound curb weight -
impressively low for an EV offering performance at this level.
Infiniti Emerg-e has been developed for excellent aerodynamic performance, both
to reduce energy-draining drag - which stands at 0.34 Cd - and to generate
positive downforce, and downforce balance, to enhance its high-speed handling.
"One of the biggest challenges was cooling the car, especially for the
range-extender and the car's EV mode," explained Hardcastle. There are a
surprising number of air intakes and extractors let into Infiniti Emerg-e's
body, but they have been introduced with such flair and subtly that they enhance
the sensuous drama of the car.
As you'd expect of a machine created for ultimate performance, Infiniti Emerg-e
features the double-wishbone suspension of race car practice, its arms of
aluminum to save weight. Its carbon fiber panels have been developed in the UK
in conjunction with a number of leading motorsports specialists (Lola
Composites, supported by Cranfield University), with the aim of using the
material in higher volumes than has previously been possible.
'This is 400 wild horses of muscle in a silky dress," said Francois Bancon.
The cocooning cockpit of a sports car, the artful grace of craftsmanship, the
intrigue of experiencing an innovative machine - all these qualities and more
are to be found inside Infiniti Emerg-e.
"We wanted to explore the excitement and desirability of a true sport car," said
Bert Dehaes, Project Lead Designer. "And because it is an electric vehicle, we
also wanted to show its innovation."
Infiniti Emerg-e is a strict two-seater sports car, and it provides the classic
reclined seating position that heightens the driver's sense of connection to car
and road below. The cockpit is clearly oriented around the driver, and as with
all the best sports cars, its simplified controls are located for speedy and
intuitive use, this more mechanical, functional look reinforcing the theme of
inspired performance. Yet the overwhelming impression is of the flowing lines of
this cabin's highly distinctive architecture, their contrast with its
high-precision cut lines and the elegantly executed attention to detail.
The swooping lines of Infiniti's trademark double-wave dashboard structure, a
lightweight, floating center console and the inviting textures of locally
sourced, semi-aniline leather upholstery make this a sports car cockpit with a
difference, especially in the detail, and the dark chrome center console
finisher echoes the crescent cut signature in the car's rear pillars. But the
most dramatic detail appears when Infiniti Emerg-e is powered up, bursts of
light briefly streaking around the cabin to provide live confirmation that the
Emerg-e is ready for action.
This lighting is an essential part of the Infiniti Emerg-e experience, not only
because it confirms the electric heart of the car, but also because it provides
a striking, modern alternative to the conventional roar of an internal
combustion engine. The lighting sequence signals the flow of energy within the
car, a heartbeat signature radiating from the ignition to illuminate the
floating centre console and the silhouettes of the seats. A small, jewel-like
lamp in the steering wheel boss also lights up momentarily to reinforce the
drama. After three seconds these illuminations fade out, leaving the eye free to
concentrate on the excitement of driving Infiniti Emerg-e.
Among the finer details is the dramatic undercut of the dashboard ahead of the
passenger, a sculptural device that doubles as an air vent. The line of this cut
runs in a single, energetic swoop into a center console whose lightweight,
carbon fiber construction makes a satisfying reminder that the entire outer
structure of the car is made from the same material. The center console's upper
surface is angled to present the Infiniti Emerg-e's transmission controls to the
driver, who sits behind a finely detailed instrument pack that includes a gauge
indicating the percentage of total available power. The instrument illumination
mostly glows blue, but shades to hot purple when Infiniti Emerg-e is driven with
The excitement of the drive is further heightened by a neatly integrated,
touch-screen display, a wheel whose upper and lower portions are flattened off,
and a light in the center of the boss that illuminates when the car is deploying
full power. A pair of slender, lightweight, luxuriantly supportive bucket seats
provide grippy Alcantara® side bolsters and leather centre panels, the fine
stitching of this upholstery confirming Infiniti's painstaking mastery of
"It's very cool to design a mid-engined sports car," said Dehaes. "We produced a
lightweight feel that's sharply cut, like a tailored suit. It fits well with
Infiniti's approach. An EV is pure and clean so the interior is the same, but
it's a friendly interior and ergonomic too, but not brutal."
The inviting nature of the interior is a reflection of Japanese hospitality,
while the influences of traditional craftsmanship can be seen in the slightly
shiny texture of the semi-aniline leather encasing the dashboard and seats, the
subtle violet-tinted lacquer sheathing the cabin's carbon fiber elements and
Infiniti Emerg-e's novel flooring. Fashioned from an architectural material
called Sefar, this fine metallic mesh allows light to shine through to provide
an intriguing, translucent glow. "It's the first time this material has been
used in an automotive application," said Gail Patrick, Senior Color Designer,
adding, "it adds depth and allure," while underlining the car fact that this car
is electrically propelled.
Exotic though all this sounds, Dehaes emphasizes that "this is not a show car
that goes wild - it's important to be realistic and believable. It's a car you'd
design for yourself."
Infiniti Emerg-e Concept: Photo Gallery, Review (1/2) and Specifications