INFINITI has introduced Prototype 9, a sleek, open-wheeled electric retro roadster prototype at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The car is a modern take on a 1940s race vehicle with time-honored production techniques employed to realize its retro design. It has been brought to life as an after-hours endeavor by a team of employees from across the Nissan Motor Corporation. Prototype 9 was inspired by an emerging era of Japanese motorsport.
Prototype 9 started as a conceptual sketch: an interpretation of an INFINITI race car, inspired by roadsters and aircraft of the era yet molded in new materials and advanced technology. The model was constructed at a secluded section of the Nissan Research Center, Japan, by a team of Takumi – Nissan Motor Corporation’s master craftspeople.
The vehicle’s 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. Prototype 9 features smooth, aerodynamic surfaces, long bonnet and short overhangs, an exposed cockpit, and open-wheeled layout. Nineteen-inch center-locking wire-spoke wheels at each corner are even wrapped in period cross-ply competition tires.
Prototype 9’s cabin has been handmade by the company’s interior design teams. It is wrapped in black leather with contrast red stitching, sewn and finished in such a way as to echo earlier single-seater racers. Subtle Japanese flags are stitched into the integrated headrests of the deep single bucket seat.
Prototype 9 is the first INFINITI to be powered by 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 it drives 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.