Paul Horrell23 March 2010

Parental Leaf

Infiniti to build a posh version of Nissan’s electric hatchback in 2014

Nissan Leaf

With all the prominence in the news about the Nissan Leaf (pictured) these past few days, it's worth remembering Nissan has other ways of getting its money back on the electric-car project. There's a luxury version coming, under the Infiniti brand.

So much for the idea that tree-huggers all wear hair shirts. The electric Infiniti will no doubt be all very Hollywood.

It will use the same platform as the Leaf, but a different body. So it will be the smallest Infiniti. But all Infinitis are supposed to have high performance as well as being luxurious, so the motor power will be turned up compared with the Leaf's.

Normally this would result in a shorter range, but the Infiniti electric car won't be launched until 2014 or so, when Nissan is ready with its next generation of battery, which should hold enough charge to cope with the increased power.

This electrification strategy, of starting with a smallish hatch, is the opposite of what Audi is doing. Audi will start with a punishingly expensive two-seat electric supercar, the e-Tron.

We asked the boss of Infiniti why. "We're not doing EVs [electric vehicles] for a limited number of people. We want lots of buyers quickly, so we are making a family car. We have no intention to make a niche EV. Besides, big vehicles are too heavy for today's batteries, which is why our car will be compact."

Paul Horrell, Consultant Editor of Top Gear magazine

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