Nissan’s affinity for electric cars has yet to catch on with its luxury brand, Infiniti, but that may change.
The Japanese carmaker has sold the Leaf EV for six years, but a planned EV for its Infiniti luxury brand has been caught up in the automotive-industry version of development limbo. Now, thanks to burgeoning demand in China, it may be back on.
Indeed, the brand’s president told Bloomberg that any EV would be designed primarily for China and would be launched there first.
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Right now, the brand offers nine models for the Chinese market – five SUVs and four sedans. Six of the nine are gas-powered, the other three are hybrids.
“When I think about EV, we design it for China definitely, even as the first market to launch,” Infiniti president Roland Krueger said in an interview with Bloomberg. “We are discussing this internally, constantly what is the right timing for Infiniti to have such vehicles.”
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China is now the world’s largest market for EVs. It passed the U.S. last year, thanks to heavy government spending on charging infrastructure, along with purchase subsidies.
Infiniti has shown an EV concept – the LE, which was unveiled in 2012 and (under)powered by a Leaf powertrain. Krueger said that the current focus is on hybrids, which have longer ranges, but thanks to Nissan’s tech expertise and its alliance with Renault, Infiniti could bring an EV to market quickly should the brand choose to offer one.
Infiniti sales in China have experienced slower growth than elsewhere in the world, and Cadillac and Lincoln have experienced much stronger growth there. Infiniti has a goal of getting to 10 percent of the global luxury car market by 2020, and Chinese sales will be key to meeting that goal.