The Japanese car manufacturer Infiniti unveiled its Prototype 9 concept sports car at Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and it caused quite a stir. Not just because it’s an electric sports car, but because it also looks like a Grand Prix racing car from the 1940s. It is a guide to the future, but with a nod to the past.
Infiniti is Nissan’s premium brand and its employees have been working on this project after work hours, which shows their dedication to the concept. Electric cars are very much in the UK news, partly because of the government’s recent announcement that after 2040, all new cars on sale will have to be electric. So, the race is on to bring models to the market.
The Prototype 9 is probably not going to be an everyday car, because of its looks and style. It is more of a luxury sports car for one. Its gleaming, hand-beaten steel bodywork and next-generation electric powertrains have been lifted straight from the Japanese car maker’s high-tech EV department that’s developing models of the future. Even though this one is more ‘vintage’ in its appearance.
The Prototype 9 has an elongated bonnet, trimmed tail section and open wheel design with a single-seat cabin that is handmade. From the driver’s seat, there’s a selection of control switches along the left side of the cockpit, with the gear shift to the right. It offers single-speed transmissions, so you can expect it to “engage forward, reverse and neutral instead of a box full of gears.”
Its power source is a 30kWh high-voltage battery that’s connected to two electric motors to develop 148 horsepower. This connects to the rear wheels, which have wire spokes and wrapped in cross-ply rubber – just as they would have been on racing cars of 70 years ago. It will take you from 0-62mph/100kmh in 5.5 seconds and has a top speed of 106 mph.
How would it perform on a racetrack today? Well, it wouldn’t last very long. Infiniti says that the battery power will only last around 20 minutes under heavy track use, which wouldn’t take you very far in any race, not even ones in the 1940s.
But, if you’re not concerned about racing it on a track, there is no doubt that it looks extremely appealing. The shell is made up of a steel frame that’s used as the template and wrapped in steel sheets that have been expertly beaten by Nissan ‘master craftspeople’. They claim it is a “blend of motorsport and aeronautical inspiration.” And, Alfonso Albaisa, senior vice president of Global Design at Infinti, said: ‘The beautiful execution of Prototype 9 represents a combination of artistry, craftsmanship and commitment to a romantic notion of our heritage.”
He is also proud of the way in which the designers and crafts people threw themselves into the project. He told the press: “’It inspired our people to work on Prototype 9 in their own time – as they were completely invested in the project and the details and features originated with them. Prototype 9 has been a labour of love for many of us.”
It is a beautiful looking car, and we will see how popular it becomes when they finally make it available for sale.
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