Infiniti Cancels Electric Car Project: Fuel Too Cheap?

LE Concept 1 photo
Photo: Infiniti
At the 2012 New York Auto Show, Japanese luxury automaker Infiniti showed the concept car you see above. Called the LE, it was a preview for a small electric sedan, similar to the Nissan Leaf but with more premium features, that would go into production and appeal to Chinese and American customers.
The project seemed to be on track, especially as Nissan had reportedly developed a battery with twice the range of the current Leaf model. Trademarks had even been filed in order to protect the design. However, a recent report suggests the Infiniti has moved against its premium Leaf, as the LE isn't going to happen any more.

Originally expected to make its debut in 2015 (yes, that's this year), the LE Concept has been canceled. Infiniti Americas Vice President Michael Bartsch has revealed this fact during an interview with USA Today and things are about as official as they can be.

The reason? It's actually a very cool one.

Bartsch said the company needs to be pragmatic and focus on high-volume cars instead of a niche model.

Crude oil prices are at record low levels these days. This had an immediate result on prices at the pump, which in turn affected green cars sales. For example, in the US sales of hybrid and electric cars totaled 570,475 units, a decrease of 3.7 percent compared to 2013.

So you can see why the company official believes more mainstream models need to be placed at the top of Infiniti's agenda. They already have three different preview concepts which need to go into production, including the Q30 compact hatch, the Q60 coupe based on the Q50 platform and the Q80 flagship four-door coupe, basically a CLS rival.

Compared to all of those, the LE Concept hardly seems worthy of production, especially when any one of the concepts could receive a PHEV version when they enter production. It was shown with a 134 hp electric motor that also developed 240 lb-ft (325 Nm). This electric Prius fighter came with a 24 kWh lithium-ion battery that gave it a range of approximately 100 miles (161 km).
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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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