Earlier this month, Nissan executive Vice President Andy Palmer confirmed that despite proclamations to the contrary by recently-departed Infiniti CEO Johan de Nysschen, Nissan’s luxury brand would be bringing the Infiniti LE all-electric luxury car to market some time in the near future.
Now the Nissan executive, who has assumed the role of Infiniti’s chief corporate architect, says that Infiniti’s first electric car — the Infiniti LE — will hit the market some time in 2017 or 2018.
What’s more, says Palmer, the Infiniti LE will make use of next-generation battery technology, resulting in a greatly improved range over Infiniti’s original LE concept car.
Unveiled at the New York Auto Show in 2012, the original Infiniti LE concept car used the same 24 kilowatt-hour lithium-ion battery pack found in the Nissan LEAF hatchback, but had a more powerful 100 kilowatt electric motor in place of the LEAF’s 80 kilowatt electric motor for sportier performance.
While the production version due in three or four years’ time will still be based on the platform used for the Nissan LEAF, Palmer says the car will have a unique body design and interior befitting the Infiniti luxury brand.
While Palmer won’t say how improved the production Infiniti LE’s range will be over the original concept car, we’d guess that it would need to hit a sweet spot of between 140 and 200 miles per charge in order to cross-shop against 200-mile, affordable electric cars being planned by General Motors and Tesla Motors.
What’s important to note about this piece of news however, is that the Infiniti LE will launch after Nissan debuts its next-generation LEAF hatchback. Due in 2016 as a 2017 model year car, the next-generation LEAF could easily launch with a larger, more capable battery pack, as hinted by Nissan earlier this year when it asked customers how much they’d be willing to pay for such a vehicle.
The fact that the Infiniti LE is due a larger, more capable battery pack than previously thought is yet more proof that Nissan is considering a similar move for the LEAF, placing a 150 mile Nissan LEAF from the ‘plausible’ to ‘likely’ position in our minds.
As for the rest of the Infiniti LE specifications? Those are still a closely-guarded secret, but expect wireless charging and CHAdeMO quick charge capability to play a part in the future luxury plug-in — unless Nissan choses to adopt Tesla’s Supercharger standard that is.