Okay, okay, maybe “plans” isn’t the right word here. At least, we can safely assume that Carlos Ghosn didn’t WANT to postpone the release of the Leaf-based Infiniti LE, but such is life. With no major updates planned for the Nissan Leaf in 2014, it’s looking like next year might be the first uneventful 365 days for Nissan’s all-electric game-plan in several years.
For those of you who need a refresher course, Infiniti first debuted the LE concept last year at the 2012 New York Motor Show. We saw the concept again earlier this year, this time with the extra detail that in no way, shape, or form would the Infiniti LE ever be released without wireless induction charging. In other words, Ghosn (rightly) feels that a luxury EV should be hands-free and devoid of the normal hassle of charging.
The Infiniti EV was originally scheduled for a 2015 model year, however, earlier this week Andy Palmer told Autonews Europe that there would be some “not significant” delays. Palmer, who is Nissan’s head of global planning, emphasized that this delay is NOT in any way indicative of a decreased interest in electric vehicles, or in delivering those vehicles to luxury drivers. Instead, he cites that, “There are some interesting advances in electric technology we hadn’t anticipated when we showed the LE, which, by delaying a little bit, we can incorporate into the car.”
Furthermore, Palmer hinted that Ghosn and co. had expected a more dominant induction charging system to emerge from the many competing technologies. But, as of right now, they’re still scrambling.
Or could it be that Tesla’s Model S is already well ahead of where Infiniti want to be and their supercharging system could also make their induction charger look old hat before it’s even out of the development stage.
On the other hand, the delay isn’t all bad. In addition to solidifying the use of induction technology, Infiniti also plans to use the extra time to incorporate several new technologies into the Infiniti LE. In fact, Palmer went so far as to state that upcoming developments in lithium ion batteries alone would justify the delay; apparently these improved batteries will allow significant savings while simultaneously increasing driving range and battery capacity. In addition, Infiniti may take this time to incorporate things like water-cooling into their powertrain, which would make the aforementioned improved batteries last longer and perform better.
Even though the Infiniti LE and Nissan Leaf may take a backseat during 2014, that doesn’t mean Nissan won’t be doing anything interesting.
For one, Ghosn will still maintain his goal of 1.5 million EVs by 2015, and Nissan Leafs will continue to sell extremely well. In fact, right now Leafs are selling faster than Nissan can make them.
For two, Nissan has at least one arguably more interesting car coming next year in the form of the new Nissan GT-R, which is getting tweaked, tuned and hybridized. And we haven’t even touched on the next-gen Nissan Rogue or the upcoming Pathfinder Hybrid (although we covered the latter during the 2013 New York Motor Show).
Well, there you have it – consider yourself updated and in-the-know about Nissan’s all-electric plans. If you have anything you’d like to add, feel free to chime in below. Otherwise, thanks for reading and stay tuned for more Japanese car-related news coming soon.
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