Infiniti has once again chosen to recapture the spirit of earlier speedsters, bridging the past and a future era of electrified performance. Its latest concept car, known as the Prototype 10, represents a physical manifestation of the brand’s creative and ambitious plans for electrified performance.

With electrification being a natural next step for Infiniti (from 2021, every new model will be electrified), the Prototype 10 provides a window into the brand’s aim of delivering driving pleasure, thrilling performance, and range (from a full battery pack charge) confidence.

Following the Prototype 9 concept first revealed in 2017, Infiniti has again ‘looked back to go forward’ with the Prototype 10. A future vision realized by its designers, the Prototype 10 evokes the spirit of early Californian speedsters, and is inspired by some of the most iconic car designs of all time.

This is the first project to come to fruition under the direction of Karim Habib, Infiniti’s new Executive Design Director who came over from BMW. It hints at how the brand’s design teams will evolve the appearance of its production cars. A project spanning the globe, the Prototype 10’s creation has been overseen by the company’s Japan design centre, designed digitally in the UK, and crafted by hand in California.

The new concept is resolutely forward-looking in terms of its aesthetics and is a natural evolution of the form language first seen in the Q Inspiration and Prototype 9 concepts. The monoposto (single-seat) cockpit is consistent with Infiniti’s driver-focused approach, and is indicative of the new opportunities created for the brand by adopting electrified powertrains and flexible vehicle platforms.

“We all feel a certain degree of passion when talking about roadsters and speedsters. We are equally passionate about the potential that electrification holds for the future of our cars – a daring speedster is the perfect study for our designers to explore an electrified future and ignite such excitement,” said Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti which is Nissan luxury brand.

“Prototype 10 highlights the shift towards powertrain electrification for Infiniti,” added Mr. Krueger. “In the near future, our cars will offer high performance, extended driving range and the intelligent management of energy.”

High performance remains a key tenet for Infiniti, with hybrid and EV technologies applied to deliver ‘electrifying’ performance. As hinted at by the Prototype 10, Infiniti’s electrified cars of the future will have rapid acceleration, high speeds, and intelligent energy management.

“Electrification provides new opportunities for the design and layout of our cars. In accommodating batteries and electric motors, or employing smaller petrol engines, we aren’t bound by the same physical restrictions. Prototype 10 shows how an electrified powertrain could fit within a lean, lightweight and daring body, and this enabled us to rethink the fundamental layout of the car,” explained Mr. Habib.

The unique layout of Prototype 10 suggests the approach that Infiniti will take in engineering its new cars. It hints at the potential to adopt rigid, 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.

Modular platforms the application of e-POWER and battery EV powertrains in new and creative ways within chassis of all shapes and sizes – including sedans, SUVs and sports cars. Electrification also provides the opportunity to introduce a wider variety of drivetrains, including a new e-AWD system, underpinned by electric motor technology, to help transform perceptions of EV performance and power delivery.

Purely a design study at this stage with no plans for production, the Prototype 10 nevertheless shows the inherent flexibility of Infiniti’s approach to platform and powertrain development.

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[Chips Yap]

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