Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury arm, has finally unveiled its pet project, the retro sports car that was touted for being a modern interpretation of vintage racer. Called Prototype 9, the car is said to be a celebration of Nissan and Infiniti’s ingenuity, artistry and craftsmanship.

It’s basically a 1940s racer, reimagined through the eyes of Infinit’s current designers and engineers. It began as an ‘after-hours’ project where the automaker’s employees would devote a considerable amount of their leisure time into making this car a reality.

Sporting the same basic dimensions of the racing cars of 1940s, Prototype 9 has a rather squarish tubular design at the front that morphs into more of a rounded one towards the rear. Also a nice a touch, is the massive finned front grille design that is reminiscent of custom American hot rods.

But what’s unique about it is the metallic trim panel that stretches across the entire grille and meets the bodywork of the front axles. In terms of looks, Infiniti broke convention with the car’s paint scheme. Unlike most concepts, this one has a matte silver finish that is similar to what the Silver Arrows racers used to have back in the day.

In total, the car is 4,330mm long, 1,820mm wide and 910mm high with a ground clearance of 65mm. It’s a pretty big vehicle but its overall weight, including the powertrain, weighs about 890kg, which should make it an agile vehicle around corners.

The car has a leading-arm rigid axle with transverse leaf spring front suspension and a De Dion axle with transverse leaf spring for the rear. And despite it being an electric car, it does not have power steering.

Regarding Prototype 9, Alfonso Albaisa, Senior Vice President, Global Design, said, “Prototype 9 celebrates the tradition of ingenuity, craftsmanship and passion of our forebears at Nissan, on whose shoulders we stand today. It started as a discussion – what if INFINITI had created a race car in the 1940s?”

He then added, “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? The sketches were stunning and the idea so compelling that we had to produce a prototype. As other departments became aware of this, they volunteered their time to create a working vehicle.”

Under the rather suave handmade exterior sits a steel ladder frame that should be period correct for the 1940s but be more rigid thanks to modern construction methods and the use of tougher materials.

The car is powered by a single speed powertrain that delivers 148bhp and 320Nm of torque to the rear wheels. Juice is supplied to the motor via a Lithium-ion battery pack and as such, the car is capable of sprinting from 0-100km/h in 5.5 seconds and reaching a top speed of 170km/h.

Infiniti will probably use this car as a design study or a show piece of the talents and capabilities of its design and engineering teams. We doubt that Prototype 9 will be of any use to Nissan’s road-going vehicles in any point in its lifetime.

There’s going to be a bit of a shake up at Nissan’s EV division. According to a statement by the automaker, it has entered into a sale and purchase agreement with GSR Capital (GSR), a private investment fund, for the sale of Nissan’s electric battery operations and production facilities to GSR.

This agreement includes Nissan’s battery subsidiary, Automotive Energy Supply Corporation (AESC), as well as battery manufacturing operations in Tennessee and Sunderland. The one in Tennessee is owned by Nissan North America Inc., while the one in Sunderland belongs to Nissan Motor Manufacturing (U.K.) Ltd.

The sale includes assets such as part of Nissan’s Japanese battery development and production engineering operations located in Oppama, Atsugi and Zama. This is a major move for the automaker considering its position as a pioneer in mass production of EVs for global markets.

Speaking of the sale, Hiroto Saikawa, president and chief executive officer of Nissan, said, “This is a win-win for AESC and Nissan. It enables AESC to utilize GSR’s wide networks and proactive investment to expand its customer base and further increase its competitiveness.”

Saikawa later added, “In turn, this will further enhance Nissan’s EV competitiveness. AESC will remain a very important partner for Nissan as we deepen our focus on designing and producing market-leading electric vehicles.”

Nissan’s current workforce at all facilities that have been acquired by GSR, which include the production plans, will be maintained. Apart from that, both the headquarters and development centers of the business will remain in Japan too, with no relocation plans for the time being.

We aren’t too sure how the effect of the sale will eventually pan out, but we do hope it doesn’t disrupt Nissan’s current plans of pushing the boundaries of what’s possible for electric vehicles both on the race track as well as off it.

Has there ever been an instance when you absentmindedly left something, food or groceries, overnight in the back seat of your car? It’s an annoyingly common mistake that has has often times resulted in you dealing with a foul odor in your cabin for the next several days.

Well, Nissan USA might have a solution for you in the form of a backseat reminder. Called the Rear Door Alert or RDA, this system monitors the opening and closing of the rear doors as well as you the driver’s movement.

If it detects that the rear door has been opened prior to a journey, but the driver, who once reaches his/her destination, attempts to shut off the engine and walk away without opening one of the rear doors, the vehicle will promptly remind them with an alert.

The system will respond with a series of notifications, beginning with a reminder message on the instrument cluster, and if ignored, the vehicle will then respond by activating the horn at a lower intensity and at short intervals.

It will defer from patterns used to inform drivers of other vehicular functions, so as not to confuse the driver when responding to the alert message.

The automaker admits that there will be many different types of scenarios in which a driver might open the rear door to check for something, throw in a gym bag or just to make sure that the door is shut properly.

As such, this RDA system has been designed to be turned off temporarily or permanently through prompts in the cluster display. This will allow the owner more flexibility of adapting to the system without it becoming over bearing or a mild annoyance for those who have no use for it.

The idea to include such an ingenious feature was thought up by two mums at Nissan. they were Elsa Foley, an industrial engineer and mother of two young children, and Marlene Mendoza, a mechanical engineer and mother of three.

This duo decided that a safety net/third eye was needed especially for mothers who have a lot on their plates. It would help avoid silly, but costly mistakes for those who are preoccupied with other matters while exiting the vehicle.

Speaking of the feature, Foley said, We pushed each other along and knew we were on the right track one morning when Marlene discovered she had left a pan of lasagna in the back seat of her car one night after coming home after a long day at the office. The worst thing was the car smelled for days, but it made me ask myself, ‘what if that had been something else back there?”

According to the automaker, the first of its vehicles to receive the RDA system is the 2018 Pathfinder. it will also be made available on other upcoming models in Nissan’s product line in the near future.

Despite the rather basic and rudimentary nature of the method of operation, one can’t help but wonder why so many supposed family focused vehicles, lack this feature. It’s more of a necessity rather than an option, and we hope that it eventually becomes standard equipment on many mainstream models.

Nissan has announced that a new and more efficient version of the Leaf will be due for release sometime in the near future. Nothing is set in stone yet, and the only image that the automaker has made available is a detailed outline of the actual car.

According to the company, the new Leaf’s body will feature improved and more efficient aerodynamics. This will help it reduce drag when in motion and remain more stable at higher speeds. The car’s bodywork will also allow it to withstand strong crosswinds without being dragged off its path, which is a very dangerous situation to be in.

This new design is said to have been inspired by airplane wings and the physics behind their method of operation. Utilizing the lessons learnt from the aerospace industry, Nissan’s engineers were able to recreate the ideal shape for the new Leaf. It will have a symmetric air flow that will help it cut through the air for a more smoother and efficient journey.

Cleaner and more streamlined design characteristics are of great importance when it comes to electric cars. Due to the limited battery pack capacity and the time it takes to recharge one, every kilometer gained through better efficiency can be extremely beneficial to the car’s practicality.

This coupled with an improved electrified powertrain should provide the new Leaf with a respectable range on a single charge. The new car has a lot to live up to considering that the original one was the first electric car to be mass produced. And with companies like Tesla making ever efficient EVs, Nissan will definitely want the new Leaf to perform well.

We believe that this is an exciting time for electric cars as more and more mainstream automakers jump on the electrified bandwagon in a bid to outdo each other. and this will benefit us, the consumer, the most. Ever stiffer competition between manufacturers mean that EVs will get better and better with each passing year.

Nissan’s rather bizzare zero emissions prototype, the BladeGlider will make an appearance at the on going Goodwood Festival of Speed both to showcase its driving capabilities as well as kept on display for the viewing of the general public. The car is meant to showcase what future performance cars might adopt in the not so distant future.

Speaking of the vehicle’s appearnce at Goodwood, Ponz Pandikuthira, vice president Product Planning, Nissan Europe, said, “The BladeGlider has been developed to bring fun, torque, efficiency and high-performance styling to the fore. Goodwood has been a world-famous showcase for many an iconic sports car over the years, so we could think of no better place to bring the BladeGlider out to play, demonstrating the Nissan Intelligent Mobility vision in action.”

First introduced at the Tokyo Auto Show in 2013, the Nissan BladeGlider is said to combine an all-electric powertrain with an efficiently designed body to offer copious amounts of driving pleasure while being as environmentally friendly as possible.

Unlike most cars, the BladeGlider features a narrowed design (three seat configuration) with the front end width being much shorter than that of the rear. Nissan purposefully designed it this way to offer optimum aerodynamic efficiency and handling stability. Despite what the automaker might say, the rear-hinged dihedral doors, though impressive, exists solely for vanity purposes.

Since it doesn’t have a roof, the BladeGlider’s body is reinforced with an integrated roll-over protection structure, that will help protect its occupants in the event of a roll over during a crash.

Most of the controls and switchgear as well as the digital meters are mounted on the steering wheel, which ensure that the driver’s hands are always kept on the steering wheel. Information that is displayed on it include speed, state of battery charge, regeneration mode and torque map. There are two centrally mounted screens that take the place of conventional side mirrors, with the images being fed to them by rear-view cameras mounted just behind the front wheels.

The Powertrain of the car was designed by Williams Advanced Engineering which consists of two 120kW (268bhp) electric motors (juice is supplied by a 22kW battery), one on each wheel. The BladeGlider is able to reach speeds in excess of 190km/h, and accelerate from 0-100km/h in under 5 seconds, which isn’t record breaking, but is quite impressive for an unconventional car.

Power is distributed to each of the front wheels trhough a torque vectoring system, which shifts power to the wheel that needs it most. If the car begins to understeer, more power will be sent to the outer wheel to compensate for the forces, enabling the car to regain a proper balance.

The BladeGlider is an odd take on the performance car genre, and how wheel it pans out for Nissan remains to be seen. But it won’t be the only car that will be showcased by the Japanese automaker because it will be accompanied by the GT-R NISMO as well as the MY17 GT-R.

Infiniti’s QX50 Concept will make its debut at the on going Shanghai Motorshow. The next-generation premium crossover is said to offer futuristic design elements that complement the modern drivetrain very well.

The company stated that the QX50 will be the first vehicle in the world to have an engine that can adjust its variable compression ratio while on the move. This Variable Compression Turbo (VC-Turbo) engine will have the ability to adjust to the needs of drivers as and when power or fuel efficiency is favoured.

Infiniti also says that the QX50 will feature autonomous drive support technologies that will allow the vehicle to operate unaided. Besides the tech, the company has designed it in such a way that the interior and exterior designs complement each other very well and lend to a muscular silhouette. It’s space-centric cabin will have decent levels of comfort while offering modern and elegant levels of craftsmanship.

“INFINITI is pleased to debut an SUV concept in the world’s fastest growing segment, here in the world’s largest market,” said Roland Krueger, president of INFINITI Motor Company. “The QX50 production vehicles will feature advanced autonomous drive capability and will be the first vehicle in the world to be powered by an engine that can adjust variable compression ratio on the fly.”

Infiniti says that its goal is to produce a vehicle that looks muscular yet elegant, has futuristic autonomous technologies but ultimately, offer high levels of driver engagement – a must for those looking for something more than just a mode of transportation.

Infiniti has announced that it has recieved record sales in the first quarter of 2017 by posting sales of 67,367 vehicles worldwide for the entire quarter, which is said to be an 18% percent increase compared to the same period last year. In March alone, the automaker shifted 28,406 vehicles which a 14% increase from last March.

Roland Krueger, President of Infiniti Motor Company said, “It is gratifying to see that customers around the world continue to appreciate the design, performance and quality they expect from Infiniti. The Infiniti team, and in particular our retail partners, can be very proud of the record first quarter and record month, following our record year in 2016. Our momentum is of course led by new products, with the Q30 and Q60 now on sale in key global markets. The momentum continues next week when we unveil the QX80 Monograph full-size SUV design study in New York, and the QX50 SUV crossover concept in Shanghai the following week.”

In the USA, Infiniti had the best quarter by selling 43,561 vehicles which is a 33% increase. Further up north, in Canada, the automaker sold 2,800 vehicles but in March alone, 1,292 vehicles were sold. It was a similar story in China too, with the Japanese giant selling 10,000 vehicles and posting a 4% increase in sales for the quarter. For markets in Asia and Oceania, Infiniti has also achieved record sales in countries such as Australia and Taiwan.

Whether the automaker can maintain this momentum for the remainder of 2017 remains to be seen, and all we can do is wait and see.

The 2017 Nissan GT-R Track Edition will make its debut at the upcoming New York Motorshow which will take place from 14th to 23rd April. This track edition of Godzilla builds on the already successful platform to deliver even better driving dynamics.

Nissan’s latest edition to the GT-R range slots between the T (Touring) and R (Racing) editions of the namesake. It is said to offer higher levels of performance than the Premium version and incorporates a number of elements from the GT-R NISMO. That said,unlike the NISMO, its engine still retains the same horsepower as the Premium variant at 565bhp.

Other improvements to the car include additional adhesive bonding to the body, which improves body shell rigidity, the 4-wheel-drive system has been tuned to NISMO specifications and too top it all off, Nissan has reduced the weight and added additional roll stiffness as well as NISMO spec tyres.

Those aren’t the only elements that were carried over, the Track Edition also features NISMO front fenders, 20-inch NISMO forged aluminium-alloy wheels and a special dry carbon-fibre rear spoiler. As for the interior, it has a unique red and black colour combination and Recaro seats.

“The new GT-R Track Edition gives buyers a specialized model, one true to GT-R heritage and available only by special order,” said Michael Bunce, vice president, Product Planning, Nissan North America, Inc. “Building on the major upgrade to every GT-R for 2017, the Track Edition is an amazing package inside, outside and under the skin.”

Nissan says that the car will go on sale in the US towards the third quarter of this year but will only be available at GT-R certified Nissan dealerships in the country.

The ever popular all-electric family hatchback may have received some added appeal. Nissan has launched a new variant of this ev, dubbed the Leaf Black Edition. As enticing as the name plate maybe, there don’t appear to be any performance upgrades for this variant over the standard car.

The Black Edition receives a number of exterior features such as 16-inch black alloy wheels, LED Headlamps, black door mirror caps and black rear spoiler. Inside, the only notable addition is the blue-stitched mats on the floor which is said to offer a more “premium” finish.

As it is with the rest of the line up, the Black Edition receives Nissan’s latest innovative technologies as standard including the NissanConnect EV telematics system and intelligent Around View Monitor.



Speaking of the latest edition to the Leaf family, Gareth Dunsmore, Director of Electric Vehicles of Nissan Europe, said “The new LEAF Black Edition perfectly showcases Nissan’s commitment to making smart, premium quality products accessible for all. This stylish black number combines dynamic styling, with Nissan’s innovative zero-emission technology to offer customers a city-savvy intelligent mobility solution. Its sleek design compliments an exciting drive, delivered through high-class engineering, demonstrating that you don’t have to compromise on style or performance when purchasing an electric car.”

Unveiled in 2010, the Nissan Leaf was the first mass-market electric family car and as of today, there are 250,000 them on the road. Powered by a 30kWh battery pack, the Leaf is able to travel 250km on a single charge, which should be more than adequate for most city dwellers.

ETCM initiates new Nissan ‘Drive To Prosperity’ sales campaign ahead of upcoming Chinese New Year festivities. (more…)


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