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Infiniti Working on Luxury Leaf With Wireless Charging

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On: Sat, May 25, 2013 at 10:50AM | By: Chris Weiss

Infiniti Working on Luxury Leaf With Wireless Charging

The electric car market is quickly filling out. What was once a polar market of six-figure sports cars (Tesla Roadster) and tiny subcompacts (Nissan Leaf, Mitsubishi iMiev, etc.) is opening its borders and becoming more diverse. The Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid has spawned the Cadillac ELR, and the Volt's original rival, the Nissan Leaf, is soon to spawn a luxury version of its own. Infiniti is working on a luxury Nissan Leaf spin-off and plans to equip it with wireless induction charging.

Infiniti first announced its first electric vehicle at last year's New York Auto Show. It gave a glimpse at what the car might look like in the form of the LE concept. In fact, it said that the eventual production electric car will be "near-similar" in form when it rolls into showrooms within about a year from now. It said that much of the concept, including the zero emissions powertrain, advanced telematics, design, and premium appointments would carry over to production. It didn't provide all the details of the powertrain, saying only that the concept had a motor with 240 lb-ft of torque and a 24 kWh li-ion battery.

We expect to see a production EV that keeps the LE's size and shape intact and maintains some of its flowing aesthetic. According to a brief update from Autocar, it will also keep the Wireless Charging System.

"The LE Concept includes a built-in Wireless Charging System, which we expect to be the first home-based wireless charging system if adapted for the production version," said Infiniti America's Vice President Ben Poore when the 2012 concept was introduced. "All you have to do is park your vehicle over the charging pad with no need to connect cables."

Autocar reports that development is buzzing along toward a future where the wireless charger will indeed be adapted for the production version.

"The whole concept of not having to couple up cables to a plug socket, dragging them on the ground and on you as you go, is in keeping with luxury motoring," Infiniti chief Andy Palmer explained to the British magazine. "It is this technology we want to shine a light on, so while there is no world standard on methods, the roll-out will be dependent on region."

The LE concept was also equipped with a hard charging port and DC fast charging capabilities, so the production car certainly won't require owners to use induction charging but simply offer it as a more convenient option.

Infiniti is encouraging other manufacturers to develop open-source induction hardware so that an interchangeable standard can be established. When it comes to hard-wired charging, competing standards like the SAE J1772 combo charger and CHaDeMOfast-charging standards have split auto manufacturers and EV charging equipment manufacturers. The two types of hardware don't work with each other, and different automakers fall on different sides, with Nissan/Infiniti a card-carrying CHaDeMo member. Given the lack of charging infrastructure, it would certainly be helpful if auto manufacturers could use compatible hardware good at any charging station. This way, EV owners could concentrate on the already difficult task of finding an "EV charging station," not necessarily a "J1772 EV charging station." Hopefully Infiniti gets its wish when it comes to induction charging.


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