CHICHESTER, West Sussex, UK- INFINITI EMERG-E, the highly advanced mid-ship sports car that provides an exciting glimpse into INFINITI's future, is now even more exhilarating. Following the launch of the concept car at the Geneva Motor Show earlier this year, the Goodwood Festival of Speed (June 28 - July 1) marks the global debut of the fully-functional version.
It's not often that a concept car gets transformed into a working demonstrator, but that's exactly what INFINITI has done in conjunction with the UK Government's Technology Strategy Board (TSB). Working closely with the TSB and partners Lotus Engineering, NTCE, CGI, EVO, Xtrac and a number of UK-based specialist technology leaders, EMERG-E has become a reality.
"Normally these motorshow concepts have a small electric motor fitted in them, just enough to move them on and off the stand," says Jerry Hardcastle, Vice-President Vehicle Design and Development, the Nissan Group Technology Centre Europe and Chairman of the UK's Automotive Council. "We said, how about putting a real car under there and showing what it would look like as a running vehicle, and at the same time use this collaboration of UK companies to demonstrate the UK's capability in this area."
The advanced technology showcased in INFINITI EMERG-E deliberately draws on the knowledge of suppliers beyond INFINITI's usual supplier base in the quest to uncover the most innovative hardware and technical know-how today. That quest has seen INFINITI become a part of the UK government's Technology Strategy Board initiative, whose aim is to speed the arrival of low carbon vehicles to our roads. The partial-funding from TSB has significantly widened the resource that INFINITI can draw upon in the development of EMERG-E and use technology relevant for the future of the automobile.
"This is a collaboration of UK companies in order to demonstrate low carbon vehicle potential," continues Hardcastle. "We took a Lotus Evora platform and together with Lotus we replaced their standard powertrain with a new range-extender electric version, specially developed for EMERG-E. It's a stunning looking car and it just shows that an electric car doesn't have to be boring."
Boasting an array of exciting new technologies that the brand will adopt in its quest to build dramatic and sustainable high performance cars, INFINITI EMERG-E also provides a fresh expression of INFINITI's design language applied to a high performance, mid-ship sports car for the first time.
"INFINITI has a good knowledge of hybrid technology as we are already providing this to the market right now," explains Francois Bancon, Division General Manager of Exploratory and Advanced Product. "But this is about changing the rules of the game. This is a new way of thinking about the sports car of the future."
The demonstrator cars remain true to the spirit and inspiration of the original concept car; twin electric motors generate 402bhp (300kW), making EMERG-E capable of accelerating from 0-60 mph in just four seconds - and from zero to 130 mph in a single, seamless 30 second burst. Crucially, it also operates as zero emission urban transport over a 30-mile range and when the range-extender petrol engine functions in concert with its twin electric motors, it produces a CO2 output of only 55g/km (NEDC cycle) over a 300-mile range.
These advanced motors direct their power via a single speed (XTRAC) transmission to create what is effectively an open differential, this arrangement significantly reduces driveline friction losses. A quartet of inverters controls the motors and their energy regeneration under braking. The recovered power is directed to a lithium-ion battery mounted behind the seats. The battery can be recharged from a mains power supply (domestic and fast-charge) and stores sufficient energy to propel the INFINITI EMERG-E for 30 urban miles, at which point the on-board petrol engine starts up to act as a generator. This light, ultra-compact, Lotus Engineered three-cylinder 1.2-liter 35kW engine has been purpose-designed for its range-extending role. It operates between crank speeds of 1500-4000rpm, producing peak power at only 3500rpm.
The program remains a process of continual learning, and already there have been fundamental improvements crucial to the success of these running prototypes. "If you notice, the concept car doesn't have a spoiler," says Hardcastle. "We added the spoiler onto the cars because we needed to balance the front and rear lift of the car. The spoiler was therefore specifically designed to be purely functional as opposed to being added just for design purposes."
It doesn't stop there, either. As an exploratory study into the future of vehicle technology, the benefits of which will change the approach to environmentally sustainable and responsible performance, the demonstrators are embarking upon a year-long testing schedule.
The performance of EMERG-E will be demonstrated in full at the Goodwood Festival of Speed as professional INFINITI drivers tackle the famous hillclimb route on Friday and Saturday before Red Bull Racing Formula One driver Mark Webber gets behind the wheel on Sunday.
"Goodwood is a very public demonstration and we'll learn so much there. We're almost doing our development and tuning in full view of the public but this was part of the idea in using the funding from the TSB," says Hardcastle. "We want to promote not only what we're doing but also what the TSB and the Automotive Council is doing and show how INFINITI has embraced and supported the scheme. By its very nature it's very public but it's also very exciting. EMERG-E's first dynamic event will be at Goodwood before it goes off on a World tour. The spectators at Goodwood are going to see this car before a lot of the Nissan executives have seen it, that's how public it is."
INFINITI EMERG-E represents both a design and an engineering challenge for INFINITI and the involved TSB partners.
"In EMERG-E, we're trying to study and investigate and showcase two things: one is the potential of a mid-engine sportscar for the INFINITI range, and the second is of a new range-extended powertrain," continues Hardcastle. "On the one hand we had an opportunity to make a mid-engine INFINITI sportscar, which would differentiate it from anything in the Nissan range and anything else in the INFINITI range. The mid-engine concept could have any powertrain, so we made a bold decision. Nissan and INFINITI already have a lot of technology for normally aspirated engines, turbocharged engines, diesel engines, electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. We hadn't really studied in great depth the potential of a range-extended electric vehicle though, and so that gave rise to the second opportunity to study a new powertrain as well. So in EMERG-E, we've brought the two things together."
INFINITI EMERG-E is blazing a trail along the Automotive Council Technology Group roadmap, which sets out objectives for environmental sustainability in automobiles. A mandate from the UK Government requires the development of innovative powertrains, such as the range-extender technology used in EMERG-E, to reduce CO2 emissions. Another key direction on the roadmap is vehicle weight.
"If you make a lightweight car, whatever powertrain you use, it will have lower CO2," says Hardcastle.
Reducing weight was one of the key considerations for EMERG-E, and with an aluminum chassis and carbon fiber body, which provides a 20-percent strength-gain in tandem with a 50-percent reduction in weight compared to the sheet molded composite often used in sports car construction, the car weighs in at the target 1598 kg. Of course, lighter weight also significantly contributes to its overall performance.
Pushing the boundaries of environmentally-sustainable powertrains, with innovative materials and technology, EMERG-E brings the future of the automobile to life and you can witness it in action for the first time at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
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Eva Ng Kon Tia
Communications and Events Manager
T: +41 21 822 4951