Automotive

Infiniti handcrafts a retro-futuristic dream in the electric Prototype 9

Infiniti handcrafts a retro-fu...
The Infiniti Prototype 9, launched at Pebble Beach 
The Infiniti Prototype 9, launched at Pebble Beach 
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The Prototype 9 has hand-beaten steel body panels 
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The Prototype 9 has hand-beaten steel body panels 
Infiniti has managed to squeeze its modern design cues into the retro Prototype 9
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Infiniti has managed to squeeze its modern design cues into the retro Prototype 9
The Infiniti Prototype 9, launched at Pebble Beach 
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The Infiniti Prototype 9, launched at Pebble Beach 
The Infiniti Prototype 9 is a retro-looking concept with a thoroughly modern powertrain 
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The Infiniti Prototype 9 is a retro-looking concept with a thoroughly modern powertrain 
The profile of the Prototype 9 is a stunning throwback to old-fashioned racers 
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The profile of the Prototype 9 is a stunning throwback to old-fashioned racers 
Power comes from an electric powertrain in the Prototype 9
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Power comes from an electric powertrain in the Prototype 9
Infiniti says the Prototype 9 will hit 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds 
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Infiniti says the Prototype 9 will hit 100 km/h in 5.5 seconds 
Wire wheels are another delightful throwback on the Prototype 9
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Wire wheels are another delightful throwback on the Prototype 9
Infiniti won't turn the Prototype 9 into a production vehicle
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Infiniti won't turn the Prototype 9 into a production vehicle
The slashing air vent behind the front wheels has become an Infiniti staple 
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The slashing air vent behind the front wheels has become an Infiniti staple 
Infiniti is relatively young, but it has done a good job of evoking the past in the Prototype 9
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Infiniti is relatively young, but it has done a good job of evoking the past in the Prototype 9
The tapered tail of the Prototype 9 wouldn't look out of place on a 1920s German racecar
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The tapered tail of the Prototype 9 wouldn't look out of place on a 1920s German racecar
The Infiniti Prototype 9 was launched at Pebble Beach 
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The Infiniti Prototype 9 was launched at Pebble Beach 
Infiniti turned to Nissan for help with the electric powertrain of the Prototype 9
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Infiniti turned to Nissan for help with the electric powertrain of the Prototype 9
Infiniti has shot the Prototype 9 in a suitably moody abandoned warehouse 
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Infiniti has shot the Prototype 9 in a suitably moody abandoned warehouse 
The grille on the Prototype 9 is a nod to production Infiniti range 
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The grille on the Prototype 9 is a nod to production Infiniti range 
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Infiniti goes to work on the  body panels of the Prototype 9
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Infiniti goes to work on the  body panels of the Prototype 9
Infiniti goes to work on the  body panels of the Prototype 9
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Infiniti goes to work on the  body panels of the Prototype 9
The body panels on the Prototype 9 are hand-beaten 
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The body panels on the Prototype 9 are hand-beaten 
The shape of the Infiniti Prototype 9 was brought to life by hand 
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The shape of the Infiniti Prototype 9 was brought to life by hand 
Infiniti goes to work on the  body panels of the Prototype 9
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Infiniti goes to work on the  body panels of the Prototype 9
The metal sheets used on the Prototype 9
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The metal sheets used on the Prototype 9
The panels on the Prototype 9 were hammered out by Japanese craftspeople 
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The panels on the Prototype 9 were hammered out by Japanese craftspeople 
Infiniti goes to work on the body panels of the Prototype 9
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Infiniti goes to work on the body panels of the Prototype 9
Infiniti goes to work on the body panels of the Prototype 9
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Infiniti goes to work on the body panels of the Prototype 9
Infiniti goes to work on the body panels of the Prototype 9
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Infiniti goes to work on the body panels of the Prototype 9
Infiniti loads the Prototype 9 up before its reveal 
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Infiniti loads the Prototype 9 up before its reveal 
A concept sketch of the Prototype 9
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A concept sketch of the Prototype 9
Concept sketches for the Prototype 9
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Concept sketches for the Prototype 9
View gallery - 30 images

Infiniti has completely unwrapped the stunning retro-futuristic Prototype 9 ahead of the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Inspired by classic Japanese racers and aircraft, the car blends stunning proportions with a modern electric powertrain to create one of the most interesting concepts we've seen this year.

The show-stopping looks of the Prototype 9 started as a conceptual sketch, inspired by roadsters and classic aircraft. Infiniti says the project was initially a paper-only proposition, but word spread and the production team offered to make the design team's vision a reality.

Even though it has an unashamedly old-fashioned silhouette, modern Infiniti design cues like the shark-nosed grille and creased hood have been neatly integrated into the concept. The steel body panels were hammered into shape by hand and are draped over a steel ladder-frame chassis.

The interior has been finished to the same high standard as the exterior, with black-and-red stitched leather seats finished with Japanese flags in the headrests. Infiniti hasn't only provided concept sketches instead of real images, but says the steering wheel hub houses all the driver instruments, while the rim rotates around it. The minimalist switchgear has been inspired by classic aircraft design.

Infiniti turned to Nissan for help with the electric powertrain of the Prototype 9
Infiniti turned to Nissan for help with the electric powertrain of the Prototype 9

Having finished the design, Infiniti turned to parent company Nissan for its experience with electric powertrains. This combines a 30 kWh battery with a prototype electric motor, the likes of which haven't been used on a production car – yet. We wouldn't be surprised to see some of the tech from this concept feature in the new Nissan Leaf when it launches.

Anyone hoping for Tesla-style performance will be sorely disappointed. The motor makes just 120 kW (148 hp) of power and 320 Nm of torque, all of which is fed to the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission. It takes 5.5 seconds to hit 100 km/h (62 mph) from standstill, and tops out at 170 km/h (106 mph). Infiniti is claiming you'll get around 20 minutes of driving on the track, but hasn't quoted a regular road-going range for the car.

The grille on the Prototype 9 is a nod to production Infiniti range 
The grille on the Prototype 9 is a nod to production Infiniti range 

"While the essence of the Infiniti Prototype 9 is rooted in the past, it runs on a next-generation EV powertrain which looks squarely to the future," says Roland Krueger, Chairman and Global President of Infiniti. "It is an excellent example of the ingenuity, craftsmanship and entrepreneurism that characterizes the teams across our company. Prototype 9 comes to life as a dynamic, drivable prototype vehicle at Pebble Beach."

The Prototype 9 is will be on display at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. There's no doubt it looks fantastic (check out the gallery for more images), but we can't help thinking its middling performance is a missed opportunity for Infiniti. Let us know if you agree in the comments.

Source: Infiniti

View gallery - 30 images
4 comments
Mik-Fielding
Apart from being somewhat underpowered and a short battery life, why on earth does it have that silly oversized grill on the front? It obviously serves no purpose as there is no requirement for a radiator and is actually larger than needed even for an ICE powered car. It is also, in contrast to the rest of the car, downright ugly!
Terence Hawkes
Magnificent panel work. Hats off the the very able metal formers who completed this work. I have done some of this myself, but very badly and I know how hard it is.
Gregg Eshelman
What about Prototype 01 through 08?
Kristianna Thomas
They say that beauty in in the eye of the beholder. I for one love the "oversized" grill that have no functionality to them. Why the short battery life, this is a prototype that is meant for design concepts. We as a society that is becoming overwhelmed by our technology, have left behind the artistic qualities. We have long ceased to appreciate the artistic aspirations of society. The prototype 9 is a beautifully crated work of art and functionality. It is this and nothing more, came a rap tap tapping on my bedroom door.....