Rate It: Infiniti’s All-Electric, Open-Wheel-Race-Car Design Study

Infiniti isn't really known for its open-wheel race cars. Despite that, the Japanese luxury brand made one anyway. Called Prototype 9, the design study was styled to look like a vintage Grand Prix racer.

If you're hoping this old-school-looking machine makes cool prewar engine noises, you might be disappointed. Power comes from a lithium-ion battery "from Nissan Motor Corporation's Advanced Powertrain Department" said to be good for approximately 148 horsepower and 236 lb.-ft. of torque. It can accelerate the 1962-pound car to 60 mph in under 6 seconds, according to Infiniti.

The prototype doesn't just have old-school looks; it was actually built the old-school way. The body was completely handmade, and the chassis underneath was made with a steel ladder frame. The suspension is based on leaf springs, the steering is non-power-assisted, and the brakes do without a booster (though disc brakes are used on all four corners).


Perhaps the best summary of this design study comes from Alfonso Albaisa, Infinit's senior vice president of global design:

"Prototype 9 celebrates the tradition of ingenuity, craftsmanship and passion of our forebears at Nissan Motor Corporation, on whose shoulders we stand today. It started as a discussion: What if INFINITI had created a race car in the 1940s? If one were to imagine an open-wheeled INFINITI racer on the famous circuits of the era, such as Japan's Tamagawa Speedway, what would that look like? The sketches were stunning and the idea so compelling that we had to produce a prototype. As other departments became aware of this, they volunteered their time to create a working vehicle."

Before we throw the spec sheet at you, let us know what you think about this unusual design study. Is this an exercise in breathtaking design, or is this just a backward prototype that will soon be forgotten?

Technical Specifications


Body and chassis

Layout

Single-seater race car w/steel ladder frame and handmade steel body panels

Powertrain

Layout

Battery w/electric motor

Battery type

Lithium ion

Max power (motor)

120 kW (148 hp)

Max torque

320 Nm (236 lb.-ft.)

Transmission

Single-speed 

Drivetrain

Rear-wheel drive

Suspension and steering

Front

Leading-arm rigid axle w/transverse leaf spring

Rear

De Dion axle w/transverse leaf spring

Steering

Non-power-assisted

Dampers

Hydraulic rotary type

Wheels, tires and brakes

Wheels

Front

Center-locking wire spokes, 19 in.

Rear

Center-locking wire spokes, 19 in.

Tires

Front

450-19

Rear

650-19

Brakes

Front

252mm ventilated discs w/out booster

Rear

252mm solid discs w/out booster

Dimensions, mm (in.)

Length

4,330 (170.5)

Width

1,820 (71.7)

Height

910 (35.8)

Ground clearance

65 (2.5)    

Wheelbase

2700 (106.3)

Track

Front

1,550  (61.0) 

 

Rear

1,570 (61.8)

Weight, kg (lbs.)

Vehicle weight

890 (1,962)

Weight distribution, fr/rr

43 / 57

Performance

Top speed, kph (mph)

170 (105.6)

Acceleration, 0-100 kph

5.5 sec.

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Comments
View comments on the GRM forums
Robbie (Forum Supporter)
Robbie (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
8/20/20 9:57 a.m.

Thats sick. Like maybe the coolest thing I'll see today. 

Duke
Duke MegaDork
8/20/20 10:00 a.m.

It's really really nice... once you get aft of the first foot or so.

 

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
8/20/20 10:21 a.m.
Colin Wood said:
 

Infiniti isn't really known for its open-wheel race cars. Despite that, the Japanese luxury brand made one anyway. 

Hey, what about this one? lol

 

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
8/20/20 10:34 a.m.

In reply to adam525i (Forum Supporter) :

Touché.

I'll admit that Formula 1 has fallen off my radar recently, but it looks like I should start paying closer attention. yes

John Welsh (Moderate Supporter)
John Welsh (Moderate Supporter) Mod Squad
8/20/20 11:17 a.m.

Infiniti also has some old history Indy racing. Sample from 2001.  But, which is more forgetable?  Infiniti or Indy Racing? Ha.  

Infiniti: the Rodney Dangerfied of lux cars.  

sleepyhead the buffalo
sleepyhead the buffalo Mod Squad
8/20/20 1:36 p.m.

as a werid aero guy... who has the following opinions:

I'd like to see more formula cars with minimal aero;  

I'd like to see more formula cars with simplified suspensions;   

I'd like to see more electric powered formula cars

 

so, this is like 300% approval from my end

Sparkydog
Sparkydog HalfDork
8/20/20 3:01 p.m.

Quick, somebody make fiberglass molds of it.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
8/20/20 3:10 p.m.

If that thing had decent range, I'd rather daily drive it than a Leaf. Turn signals? I've got a functional left arm.

JoeyM
JoeyM Mod Squad
8/20/20 4:44 p.m.

love the view from the back.  I would have preferred a track nose variant instead of what they gave it.  That's really the only possible complaint I have.

nderwater
nderwater UltimaDork
8/20/20 5:19 p.m.

Love it.  I'd really like to see this one in the flesh.

GIRTHQUAKE
GIRTHQUAKE Dork
8/21/20 10:43 a.m.
MadScientistMatt said:

If that thing had decent range, I'd rather daily drive it than a Leaf. Turn signals? I've got a functional left arm.

It's "functional range" could be 30 miles and I'd still drive the hell out of it. It's like the EV 3-wheeler Morgan was gonna make but pulled back on at the last second.

I hope this is a sign that Infiniti is gonna do some more wild stuff in the near future.

Raze (Forum Supporter)
Raze (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
8/21/20 10:47 a.m.

heart

P3PPY
P3PPY HalfDork
8/21/20 1:01 p.m.
Duke said:

It's really really nice... once you get aft of the first foot or so.

 

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