Apr 102012

Plug-ins Remain a Niche

Let’s face it, cars are not just about getting from A to B. While motorists spend a great deal of time looking at the functions and features of a vehicle when they’re making a shortlist, they also consider how a car looks, perhaps more than we’d care to admit. This obsession with aesthetics is perhaps why electric vehicles are still struggling to take off. At the moment, plug-ins remain a niche market, and it’s probably going to be that way for some time.

Infinity Electric - Concept Eco Car

Infinity Electric - Concept Eco Car

Infinity LE – Concept Japanese Brand

All the more reason then for releasing vehicles like Infiniti’s new LE, a concept the Japanese brand showed off at the recent New York motor show. If the likes of the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf look functional, then the Infinity LE is more a sleek sedan with curves in all the right places. From what we have seen of this concept so far, it features a sharp metallic grille, sharp front headlights that arch away, and a curvy contour that runs the length of the side. The icing on the cake is the chrome band alloy wheels.

Indeed, the Infiniti LE is based on the Nissan Leaf, but it’s certainly a sexier package all round, which may make all the difference were it to actually roll off the production line anytime soon.

Infinity LE – Performance

But it’s not just a pretty face; this is a car that would produce a very respectable 134 break horsepower compared to 110hp for the Nissan Leaf. It would use the same 24 kilowatt-hour battery pack as Nissan’s flagship electric vehicle as well as the same speed transmission, a single-speed, and exactly the same beam rear end.

Infinity LE – Driving Range

But that is where the similarities between the two end. The Infiniti LE would offer a superior range of 100 miles of driving on just one charge, and inside the interior is decked out to a much higher level. There is even an Intel Atom processor, more commonly seen on laptops and notebooks with 10-inch screens, which powers an all-new infotainment system. More details will surely follow as Infiniti continues to tease us ahead of a launch expected sometime within the next two years. There is therefore a long while to go before we see this vehicle hit the road.

It promises to be an interesting introduction into the EV market. By the time it rolls off the production line, we can fully expect the Infiniti LE to be competing in a niche market with significantly more sales than we see today. That’s almost a certainty given the slow but steady growth of the plug-ins segment.

Infinity LE – Appetising Vehicle

It’s difficult to imagine that there will be a more appetising vehicle on the market in terms of looks, and with other advantages including high-end interior and a very competitive driving range on one charge, this vehicle could redefine the electric market and make it far more attractive to the average car buyer. In truth the, the electric vehicle market has been waiting for such a car. The only surprise is that it has taken such a long time to come.

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