Radical speedster concept hints at future design, powertrains for Infiniti

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Infiniti will start switching over to an electrified lineup around 2021 when the first models based on a new modular platform are introduced. That date’s a few years off but in the interim Infiniti is providing a glimpse into its future with concept cars.

The Q Inspiration unveiled in January gave us a taste of what future Infinitis will look like, and at this week’s Monterey Car Week a new concept called the Prototype 10 makes its debut and hints at what the cars will perform like. In a nutshell, it’s a speedster that signals Infiniti’s vision of combining performance and electrification.

The Prototype 10 builds on last year’s Prototype 9, which was also a speedster and meant to imagine an alternate history for Infiniti. The Prototype 10 is resolutely focused on what the future holds for the brand, with its single-seat layout emphasizing Infiniti’s driver-focused approach to developing cars.

It is the first Infiniti whose design was conceived entirely by Karim Habib, a former BMW designer who took over the design reins at Infiniti last year. He explains that elements of the Prototype 10, like the Q Inspiration before it, will feature on future Infinitis.

Infiniti Prototype 10 concept

Infiniti Prototype 10 concept

Its smooth surfaces and unbroken lines hint at the clean powertrain within, and this theme is continued into the cockpit where clean, flowing surfaces are bisected by geometric lines. Communicating the notion of electrification and performance, the Prototype 10’s uncluttered cockpit is fitted only with a driver’s seat, four-point harness, brake and accelerator pedals, and a race-inspired steering wheel.

“Prototype 10 follows the Infiniti Q Inspiration concept in introducing a new form language for an electrified era, hinting at electric performance of the highest order,” Habib said in a statement. “Where the Q Inspiration presented a degree of sensuality in its surfaces, Prototype 10 evolves this design with more purpose and aggression.”

Naturally, the Prototype 10’s powertrain is an electrified one, though Infiniti is short on details. All the automaker says is that the Prototype 10 hints at the potential for Infiniti to adopt modular platforms with flat floors to underpin every one of its new electrified vehicles, and support a new era of design and packaging. Indeed, it’s due to the flat floor that the Prototype 10 driver’s seat can be situated so low in the chassis.

What we know is that Infiniti’s new modular platform is designed to offer multiple electrified powertrains, including series hybrid, parallel hybrid and pure electric options.

The series hybrid, what Infiniti (and Nissan) call e-Power, is an electric car that charges its battery by a combination of energy regeneration and an internal combustion engine acting purely as a generator, i.e. there’s no plug.

There will be pure electrics too, with the first batch of Infiniti electric cars to offer a maximum 400 horsepower and about 300 miles of range.

For high-performance applications, there will be plug-in hybrid power. In this case, an internal combustion engine will power the front axle while an electric motor or two will power the rear, creating what Infiniti calls e-AWD.

For more Monterey Car Week coverage, head to our dedicated hub.

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