March 22, 2012
Unveiling the Infiniti EMERG-E Concept
Infiniti’s luxury electric sportscar concept, EMERG-E, debuted at the Geneva Motor Show and Jerry Hardcastle – Vice President of Vehicle Design & Development, Nissan Technical Centre Europe – explained NTCE’s role in bringing the right mix of engineering and innovation together to make the racy Concept a much-anticipated reality.
Q1. EMERG-E is not only a concept car, but two working prototypes merging different technologies. Can you tell us more about these technologies and what makes them special for Infiniti?
Jerry Hardcastle, VP: The EMERG–E has been a really exciting project for us at Infiniti and also at our technical center in the UK. And what we have been doing is trying to bring some new technologies to the Infiniti brand which haven’t currently been developed. To do that, we have selected partners from across the UK and into Europe and they have brought the underpinnings of this car – so that the car that you can see is the Concept car. But we have been working on two working prototypes and they will be ready in the summer of this year.
That is our challenge and the technology we have used is a range-extended electric vehicle. Range extended electric vehicle means, basically, it runs on the electric motor all of the time but it uses a smaller battery. That battery gives it a range of about 30 miles.
Also in the car is a small engine and that engine is basically driving a generator. So while the car is driving on a battery, the engine is generating electricity and recharging the battery. While it is in recharging mode, you can actually get a range of about 300 miles. That gives you all the benefits of an electric car but none of the downside of the range. Also it allows us to run two much more powerful motors. Two motors give us 300 kilowatt power which will accelerate the car from 0 to 60 in about 4 seconds and will hopefully do around 130 miles per hour.
The performance is really like a sportscar and it is that blending, of that technology, combined with a lightweight chassis and a full carbon-fiber body that gives us this really good potential to have EMERG-E as a really good sportscar.
Q2. What is Nissan Technical Centre Europe’s role within this EMERG-E project, what can we expect going forward?
VP: NTCE were asked to do the engineering for this car, which was great. Our role here is to introduce some new technology to Nissan and to Infiniti.
We wanted to demonstrate particularly the UK’s capability not only within NTCE but also the supply base. The UK has obviously got a heritage of sportscars but this is taking that heritage and applying it to a much more eco-friendly sportscar.
NTCE has been out there finding the partners, making a contract with them and then working with the design team to create the car that we have and project manage all of the engineering. We’ve worked very closely with one of our very long-term partners, Lotus. The two prototypes that we will make will be based on an Evora with a new technology, new electric motors, new inverters, a new battery from outside of Nissan and we are blending all of that technology and demonstrating its capability. Now, whether that capability will be further developed – it’s a bit like a competition. Maybe some of the technology that’s in this car will be selected or, possibly, we will select another technology.
What this car shows is the capability for a mid-engined Infiniti. The powertrain that goes into that mid-engine location is still to be decided and clearly I hope that whichever powertrain is selected then the UK team will be heavily involved.
Q3. What is your involvement with the UK government and your activities mentoring engineers at Nissan Technical Centre Europe?
VP: In the UK I am actually a member of something called the Automotive Council and this is a council of all of the OEMs and suppliers and other related parts of the automotive industry and we have been looking at ways to promote the UK capability and technology and one of the ways to do that is to engage with a program which is called the Low Carbon Vehicle Development Programme, which is sponsored by the Technology Strategy Board, and by doing that they have helped us to actually create the consortium that has been able to develop this car.
So we have taken expertise from Nissan Technology Centre Europe. We’ve taken expertise from Lotus, but also taken expertise from universities, from the smaller supply companies, from a company called CGI who have done the bodywork and our team has really been the project managers of that. So they have been basically running the project. They have been bringing the team together. They have been teaching everybody about the big corporate Nissan Infiniti way of doing things, meeting deadlines – we had a deadline to be at the Geneva Motor Show and we are here at the Geneva Motor Show. I’m not going to tell you the exact date but we have another deadline for the summer to produce another prototype. And that’s what my team has been about, making sure that happens, bringing the best of the Japanese engineering culture and blending it with the best of the innovative technology in the UK.
Producer, Nissan Global Media Center