Infiniti is joining the manufacturer rush to electric racing cars – except that its new model looks as if it has come straight out of the 1940s.
The open-wheeled Prototype 9 has been unveiled as a concept at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in the USA. It is described as “a journey back in time” and a “fusion of advanced technology with traditional hands and hearts of hundreds of craftsmen.”
Nissan’s next electric
Underneath the retro exterior, however, the Prototype 9 boasts the latest electric powertrain from Nissan, expected to be unveiled in production form in the next Nissan LEAF at the Frankfurt Motor Show. It pairs the electric motor with a 30kWh high-voltage battery, putting 148hp and 320Nm of torque through the rear wheels which gives the car a 0-62mph time of 5.5 seconds and a 105.6mph top speed.
Built as an after-hours project by a team of employees from across Nissan, the car is even of traditional construction – weighing in at just 890kg, it has a steel ladder frame covered in hand-beaten steel panels in a bare finish, leaf springs behind the 19-inch wire wheels, a De Dion rear axle and no power steering.
Infiniti design elements are incorporated – the double-arch grille, the single crease in the bonnet, and the ‘shark gills’ behind the front wheels. Even the figure 9 in the title relates to the Q motif used in Infiniti cars – 9 in Japanese is pronounced ‘kyuu’.
There is no chance of the Prototype 9 reaching any form of production, the brand’s global design head Alfonso Albaisa effectively admitting that it imagines a heritage Infiniti doesn’t have. “Prototype 9 celebrates the tradition of ingenuity, craftsmanship and passion of our forebears at Nissan, on whose shoulders we stand today – 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?”