The Infiniti Project 9: Retro Single-Seat Racer - Powered by An Electric Motor. Full Details and Pix
There is so much we could dislike about about The Infiniti Project 9 (concept) to be announced at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concourse – It's slow, powered by battery etc., etc. However, you have to admire the skill of the designers who have managed to make the ugly (Lexus-like?), corporate grill into something that looks almost respectable and the engineers who volunteered their time to make this project a reality. Above all – Carpix wants one. And we don't say that about many concept cars. Full details below....
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PEBBLE BEACH, California – Nissan Motor Corporation and premium automotive brand INFINITI have unveiled a sleek, open-wheeled electric retro roadster prototype at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. The car, called Prototype 9, is a celebration of Nissan Motor and INFINITI's ingenuity, artistry and craftsmanship. It represents a re-imagining of a 1940s race car with time-honored production techniques employed to realize its retro design.
"Prototype 9 celebrates the tradition of ingenuity, craftsmanship and passion of our forebears at Nissan Motor Corporation, on whose shoulders we stand today. It started as a discussion: What if INFINITI had created a race car in the 1940s? If one were to imagine an open-wheeled INFINITI racer on the famous circuits of the era, such as Japan's Tamagawa Speedway, what would that look like? The sketches were stunning and the idea so compelling that we had to produce a prototype. As other departments became aware of this, they volunteered their time to create a working vehicle."
- Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Global Design
Prototype 9 is emblematic of INFINITI's entrepreneurial spirit and passion for stunning design. From humble beginnings as a sketch, to the dynamic example presented at Pebble Beach, Prototype 9 has been brought to life as an after-hours endeavor by a passionate and enterprising team of employees from across the Nissan Motor Corporation.
The car is powered by a prototype electric motor and battery from Nissan Motor Corporation's Advanced Powertrain Department. This nod to the future contrasts with the traditional materials and techniques applied for the Prototype 9's manufacture, including panels hand-beaten by a team of Takumi – Nissan Motor's master artisans.
"What started as an after-hours idea grew into a fully fledged prototype; our designers and engineers were excited by the notion of creating a past vision, a nod to our origins. They volunteered their own time; more and more staff became involved. Our teams have proven skills in manufacturing, engineering, design and advanced powertrains, yet they wanted to bring their own traditional craftsmanship to the project. They made Prototype 9 a reality, a result of their ingenuity – they recognized and realized the past, powered by a future-centric electric powertrain at its heart. Prototype 9 blends modern technology and hand-crafted details paying tribute to the forebears of INFINITI."
- Roland Krueger, Chairman and Global President
Where existing and future INFINITI models adhere to the company's "Q" and "QX" nomenclature, Prototype 9 represents something different. Echoing the company's origins, the figure "9" is pronounced "kyuu" in Japanese – similar to the English pronunciation of the letter "Q," which is used for all of the company's production cars.
Prototype 9: Designers imagine, "what if…?"
"We discussed the idea of ‘chancing' upon an unrecognized race car, hidden away for decades in a barn, deep in the Japanese countryside. We wanted to explore what this looked like, what it would have been made of. Open-wheeled racers of the age were beautiful machines, elegant and powerful and with a wonderful purity of purpose. It's an automotive fantasy, but the notion captured our imaginations enough to put pencil to paper."
- Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Global Design
The starting point for bringing Prototype 9 to life was a conceptual sketch: an interpretation of an INFINITI race car, inspired by roadsters and aircraft of the era yet molded in new materials and advanced technology. From this moment Prototype 9's transformation from sketch to reality was inevitable.
Albaisa created a sketch of the vehicle, with sleek lines, and aeronautically-inspired bodywork crafted in bare sheet metal. Initially shared only with close colleagues, the idea soon spread among INFINITI's design team members – with a number enthusiastically calling for the vehicle to be brought to life. The sketch triggered a domino effect – each person who saw it felt it deserved more attention, and soon there was a burgeoning desire within INFINITI to take it beyond the drawing board.
More designers at the INFINITI Design Studio in Atsugi, Japan, began making their own detail contributions – the shape, design and materials that could feature in the cockpit, for example. Chasing a passion for beautiful vehicle design, the team moved to bring the sketch into the physical world.
The vehicle was transformed from a daring idea into scale design studies in clay. Full-size models were soon formed. Although still a secretive "passion project" at this point, word seeped into other parts of INFINITI Motor Company and throughout its parent company, the Nissan Motor Corporation. People noticed something a little different was taking shape at the design center.
Body and chassis
Single-seater race car with steel ladder frame and handmade steel body panels
Lithium-ion battery with electric motor
Battery type: Lithium-ion
Max power: (motor) 120 kW (148 hp)
Max torque: 320 Nm (236 lb-ft)
Suspension and steering
Front: Leading-arm rigid axle with transverse leaf spring
Rear: De Dion axle with transverse leaf spring
Steering: Non-power assisted
Dampers: Hydraulic rotary type
Top speed: kph (mph) 170kph . (mph)105.6