July 21, 2024


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Infiniti Formula One-inspired Q60 Project Black S has been canned

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Infiniti gave enthusiasts a preview of what a high-performance hybrid coupe equipped with Formula One-derived technology could look like when it released the Q60-based Black S concept in 2017. While executives hinted the 563-horsepower model could reach production sooner rather than later, the company confirmed it’s been axed.

Industry trade journal Automotive News learned the concept was consigned to the automotive attic from an Infiniti spokesman. He pointed out the design study “continues to inspire us,” but he didn’t explain why the Black S won’t reach production. We’re not surprised by the decision, though. It was a complex, eye-wateringly expensive version of a slow-selling model unveiled in 2015. Making the numbers add up was likely easier said than done.

Interestingly, many Infiniti dealers didn’t want the Black S.

“In today’s market, a premium Japanese performance coupe has to be very low volume. Anything that Infiniti produces for its dealers, we want it to be a volume product. We’re not really in the racing business. I would much rather see something like the QX60. That’s a volume vehicle, that’s where this company needs to go,” opined Ed Lennon, the chairman of the Infiniti National Dealer Advisory Board, in an interview with Automotive News.

Unveiled at the 2017 edition of the Geneva auto show, and presented again the following year in Paris, the Black S was powered by a gasoline-electric hybrid drivetrain built around the twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6 that powers the Q60 Red Sport 400. It worked with three motor-generator units similar to the ones found in the Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) fitted to Formula One cars. One spun the rear wheels, and the others were connected to the turbochargers to eliminate lag and deliver instant boost. Infiniti quoted a sub-four-second sprint to 60 mph.

Hybrid technology adds weight, and Formula One-like components are no exception. Infiniti noted the drivetrain weighed 441 pounds more than the Red Sport 400’s V6. Had it been built, the Black S would have relied extensively on carbon fiber to keep weight in check, and it would have offered a 50/50 weight distribution.

Much has changed since 2017, however. Roland Krueger, the former Infiniti CEO who championed the project, left the company in January 2019 to lead Dyson’s ill-fated automotive unit. Infiniti announced plans to exit the European market later that year, and it ended its participation in Formula One in 2020. Its parent company, the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance, has been entangled in a cold war since Carlos Ghosn was arrested in 2018.

Then, executives steered Infiniti in a new direction named Nissan-plus in 2020. It calls for the company to share platforms and other components with Nissan in order to save money, and to invest resources into overhauling its design language. Launching a low-volume coupe with Formula One tech flies directly into the teeth of this plan.

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