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by Michael Hines
Nissan’s upscale arm is positioning itself to be the world leader in luxurious EVs and hybrids.
Infiniti has been around for over 20 years, but Nissan's luxury brand is still known primarily as the maker of the G35 and G37 coupes, aka the Skyline's soul sisters. Both are good cars, but Infiniti hasn't been able to surpass the BMW 3 Series. Infiniti has been working hard in recent years to increase its sales and brand awareness by crafting a handful of sexy and luxurious eco vehicles. These concepts may not make it to market, but they are a great indicator of what the company has in store for the future.
Infiniti showed the world that green doesn't have to mean boring when it unveiled its Emerge-E at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show. The Emerge-E comes equipped with two electric motors with a lithium-ion battery pack, four inverters and a 3-cyl gas engine. The Emerge-E has 402hp, a 0 to 60 time of 4 seconds and a max range of 300 miles on its gas engine and 30 miles on its batteries.
The Infiniti Etherea proves that beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. The Etherea's was described by the company as "a four-door coupe with five-door practicality - a hatchback that doesn't look like a hatchback," right... The concept has a supercharged 2.5-liter 4-cyl engine good for 245hp. Decide for yourself whether or not those numbers make up for the Etherea "unique" look.
Infiniti celebrated its 20th birthday in a big way with its Essence concept. The Essence gets its curvy look from a "kanzashi," which is of course a hairpin used to hold up a kimono. Powering the concept is a direct injection 3.7-liter DOHC V6 gas engine good for 434hp and a 3D electric motor. All told the Essence is said to average 29.4 mpg with and have 592 total horsepower.
The LE Concept pictured here may not be as flashy as Infiniti's other designs, but this is probably what the brand's next eco vehicle will look like. The concept can seat five and is powered entirely by electricity. Infiniti's latest concept is basically a gussied up Leaf, which may not be such a bad thing should it be priced right.