INFINITI Creates An Electric Race Car For A Hypothetical Past

INFINITI Creates An Electric Race Car For A Hypothetical Past
Automotive

The handcrafted car started as an after-hours passion project

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 22 august 2017

What if INFINITI’s history extended back to the 1940s and they built race cars? That’s the very question Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President of Global Design at INFINITI asked himself. He sketched out a long open wheel racer in the style of the Maserati and Auto-Union grand prix cars of that era. The sketches quietly made the rounds within the studio and other designers got excited to help push the project forward.

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.

INFINITI_Prototype_9_03.jpg
The project progressed in secret after-hours and soon a full scale model was made. When work of the project started to leak out beyond the studio, INFINITI’s production team found out and offered to volunteer their time to build it. The model was stealthily moved from INFINITI Design Studio in Atsugi to a secluded section of the Nissan Research Center just outside Yokohama, Japan.

INFINITI_Prototype_9_build_03.jpg

A team of master craftspeople – Takumi, combined modern technology with traditional metal forming techniques to build the car. The body panels were hand hammered into shape from flat pieces of sheet metal. Many of the mechanical components were hand manufactured.

INFINITI_Prototype_9_build_01.jpg

The result is the Prototype 9, a sleek homage to the golden era of grand prix racing. The car is a showcase for INFINITI design and craftsmanship skills. It debuted at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, one of the world’s most prestigious classic car events.

INFINITI_Prototype_9_04.jpg

Underneath the Prototype 9’s sleek sheetmetal is a new electric drive system proposed by INFINITI engineers.

The Prototype 9 is the first INFINITI to be powered by a new EV powertrain: a 30 kWh high-voltage battery paired with a prototype electric motor, one not yet seen on a production vehicle. The motor produces 120 kW (148 hp) and 320 Nm (236 lb-ft) of torque, and it drives the rear wheels via single-speed transmission. Prototype 9 has a top speed of 170 kph (105.6 mph), and sprints from 0-to-100 kph (0-to-62 mph) in 5.5 seconds, with a maximum EV range of 20 minutes under heavy track use.

INFINITI_Prototype_9_02.jpg

So what’s the real point of the Prototype 9? It must have been a blast for the designers, engineers and craftspeople to work on. A once in a lifetime project for many of them. It is also a huge marketing piece for INFINITI to use for attention, and it is a memorable one at that. Projects like this are great to see from automakers because they’re all probably getting tired cranking out SUV’s and crossovers.

INFINITI

What if INFINITI’s history extended back to the 1940s and they built race cars? That’s the very question Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President of Global Design at INFINITI asked himself. He sketched out a long open wheel racer in the style of the Maserati and Auto-Union grand prix cars of that era. The sketches quietly made the rounds within the studio and other designers got excited to help push the project forward.

+Asia
+Automotive
+Brand Introduction
+Design
+electric car
+infiniti
+Innovation
+japan
+Market Research
+nissan
+race car
+technology
+travel
+work

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