Infiniti LE All-Electric Vehicle (PROTOTYPE)

Written By: Brittney B.

Infiniti LE All-electric prototype/concept

In April 2012, Infiniti finally ended a year's worth of speculation by debuting a luxury sedan that could run on a wireless electric charge. When the highly anticipated Infiniti LE prototype — "L" for luxury and "E" for electric — was unveiled at the New York International Show, experts were quick to compare it to the efficiency, range and power of other electric vehicles, as well as the innovative and stylish features of other luxury models. As a member of both categories, the LE was in a position to dwarf the competition, but the five-seater still hasn't made it to production.

Driven by other models

Infiniti is Nissan's luxury division, so it's fitting that the Infiniti LE was initially conceived as a luxury version of the Nissan LEAF. In fact, this first prototype shared the same wheelbase and battery as the LEAF, but it also proved that not all zero-emission, all-electric vehicles are created equally. Thanks in part to a better motor and more streamlined exterior, the LE prototype boasted better horsepower, torque and aerodynamics than its mass-market inspiration, as well as upscale and futuristic details like blue LED lighting around the bumpers and sills.

Today, competition is fiercer than ever, and improvements are necessary to make this prototype a success. Electric vehicles are no longer a rarity, and as new battery and energy technologies continue to emerge, the bar for the Infiniti LE keeps rising. The original prototype's 24-kWh lithium-ion battery had a 100-mile range, which worked for the Nissan LEAF but did little to set the LE apart as a luxury vehicle. Even with its wireless charging technology, that battery wouldn't be able to compete with the 48 kWh battery in Tesla's upcoming Model III, which could last between 200 and 400 miles on a single charge.

Infiniti LE All-Electric Prototype/Concept

Stop-and-go progress

Unfortunately, the LE didn't make an expected appearance at the Detroit Auto Show in January 2014, disappointing industry insiders who were expecting a 2015 model to hit dealerships within the year. Johan de Nysschen, Infiniti's president, told reporters to expect an indefinite delay as the company worked on improving its battery range, among other things.

Luckily, Infiniti resumed its production plans later the same year. Just after Nysschen resigned to become Cadillac's CEO in July 2014, electric enthusiast and Nissan executive Andy Palmer temporarily stepped in. The shift in power was quickly followed by a release of Infiniti's extensive product plan for the next several years, which detailed their intent to produce a 2017 or 2018 Infiniti LE.