This week Nissan and their premium brand INFINITI unveiled a handsome, open-wheeled electric retro-roadster prototype at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
The car, called Prototype 9, which has a cool retro 1940s race car shape but is powered by a prototype electric motor and battery from Nissan’s Advanced Powertrain Department. This nod to the future contrasts with the traditional materials and techniques applied for the Prototype 9’s manufacture, including panels hand-beaten by a team of Takumi – Nissan Motor Corporation’s master craftspeople.
The vehicle’s stunning bodywork is made from steel body panels wrapped around a steel ladder frame. The panels were hammered into shape by the Takumi. For Prototype 9, panel beaters incorporated INFINITI’s signature design elements, such as the double-arch grille, ‘shark gills’ aft of the front wheels, a single-crease hood, and sharp lines that stretch from front to rear.
Defined by its smooth, aerodynamic surfaces, long bonnet and short overhangs, Prototype 9 features an exposed cockpit, and open-wheeled layout. 19-inch centre-locking wire-spoke wheels at each corner are even wrapped in period cross-ply competition tyres.
Inside, the cockpit is wrapped in black leather with contrast red stitching, sewn and finished in such a way as to echo earlier single-seater racers. The dashboard features no distractions from the road ahead, the steering wheel rotates around a fixed central hub, housing the driver’s instrument gauges. The hub itself finished in turned aluminium, an effect found on aircraft throughout the first half of the 20th century.
Under the bonnet, Prototype 9 features a new EV powertrain – a 30 kWh high-voltage battery paired with a prototype electric motor, one not yet seen on a production vehicle.
The motor produces 120 kW (148 hp) and 320 Nm (236 lb ft) of torque and driving the rear wheels, via single-speed transmission. Prototype 9 has a top speed of 170 kph (105.6 mph), and sprints from 0-to-100 kph (0-to-62 mph) in 5.5 seconds, with a maximum EV range of 20 minutes under heavy track use.
Auto Addicts Ed: A giant step in the right direction for design and engineering in our view – A handsome beast, but it still needs to lose some weight and last a bit longer than 1 track day session. But massive thumbs up, can we have a go when it comes to the UK?
|Body and chassis|
|Layout||Single-seater race car with steel ladder frame and handmade steel body panels|
|Layout||Lithium-ion battery with electric motor|
|Max power (motor)||120 kW (148 hp)|
|Max torque||320 Nm (236 lb ft)|
|Suspension and steering|
|Front||Leading-arm rigid axle with transverse leaf spring|
|Rear||De Dion axle with transverse leaf spring|
|Dampers||Hydraulic rotary type|
|Wheels, tires and brakes|
|Wheels||Front||Centre-locking wire spokes, 19-inch|
|Rear||Centre-locking wire spokes, 19-inch|
|Brakes||Front||252 mm ventilated discs without booster|
|Rear||252 mm solid discs without booster|
|Dimensions, mm (inches)|
|Ground clearance||65 (2.5)|
|Weight, kg (lbs)|
|Vehicle weight||890 (1,962)|
|Weight distribution, fr/rr||43 / 57|
|Top speed, kph (mph)||170 (105.6)|
|Acceleration, 0-100 kph||5.5 secs|