Japanese auto maker Nissan and Infiniti have unveiled an open-wheeled electric prototype at the 2017 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The retro-styled car, called Prototype 9, is reimagining of a 1940s race car with time-honoured production techniques employed to realise its retro design.
The car is powered by a prototype electric motor and battery from Nissan. 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’s master craftspeople.
Prototype 9 was inspired by an emerging era of Japanese motorsport. The custom-built Prince R380, which also makes its public debut at the 2017 Concours d’Elegance, broke several land speed records in 1965 before taking overall victory at the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji Speedway. Interestingly, Prince Motor Company is considered to be Japan’s original builder of premium automobiles. The R380 in Pebble Beach is the actual Japanese Grand Prix-winning car, believed to be the only surviving R380.
The 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 148bhp and 320Nm of torque and driving the rear wheels, via single-speed transmission. The Prototype 9 has a top speed of 170kmph and sprints from 0 to 100kmph in 5.5 seconds, with a maximum EV range of 20 minutes under heavy track use.
While the spirit of the Prototype 9 is rooted in the past, it runs on a next-gen EV powertrain which looks in to the future. The powertrain, in fact, is expected to be featured in future models from Nissan and Infiniti.