Revealed at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the concept represents a manifest for Infiniti’s creative plans for future electric performance-drive models.
The concept, which follows the Prototype 9 concept presented at Pebble Beach in 2017, evokes the spirit of early Californian speedsters.
This is the first project completed under the direction of Karim Habib, the company’s new Executive Design Director, and it hints at how the brand’s design teams will evolve the appearance of its production cars.
The Prototype 10’s creation has been overseen by the Japan design center, designed digitally in the U.K., and crafted by hand in San Diego, California.
The design evolves the form language first seen in the recent Inspiration and Prototype 9. The monoposto (single-seat) cockpit is consistent with Infiniti’s driver-focused approach, and is indicative of the new opportunities created by adopting electrified powertrains and flexible vehicle platforms.
Speaking about the inspiration behind the project, Karim Habib explains: “The INFINITI Prototype 10 echoes the layout and design of early speedsters. This period saw the creation of some of the most evocative car designs of all time, where power was celebrated through high-powered single-seat competition cars. Our new concept speaks of an electrified future, something which is reflected in its form and details. It is appropriate that we found inspiration in an optimistic bygone era in which cars were characterized by the simple love of driving.”
You can read more design details in the press release reported below.
Inspiration: a speedster for the modern era
In creating the Prototype 10, INFINITI has re-imagined the classic speedster with a cool, clean, forward-looking design. Inspired by the potential for electrification, INFINITI’s new concept seeks to demonstrate the daring spirit of performance that will inform the brand’s production vehicles in the future.
The new concept follows two other design studies revealed by INFINITI in the last 12 months: the Prototype 9 – first revealed in 2017 – and the INFINITI Q Inspiration concept, unveiled at the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Where Prototype 9 – a sleek, open-wheeled, electric retro-roadster – imagined an alternative history for INFINITI, the Prototype 10 is resolutely focused on what the future holds for the brand. Utterly daring in its bold execution, the new concept is inspired by the spirit of early speedsters, its form and function evoking driving pleasure and thrilling performance. Even its monoposto cockpit is consistent with INFINITI’s approach to creating driver-focused cars. The Prototype 10 also echoes the design of the 2018 Q Inspiration concept, which previewed a new form language for INFINITI in an era of advanced powertrains.
Karim Habib explains: “For us, Prototype 9 evoked the thrill and drama of early open-wheeled racing, and Prototype 10 represents another passion project for our designers. This idea of ‘looking back to go forward’, and combining the inspiration of an earlier aesthetic with future technology, lets us show how excited we are about the era of electrification. Prototype 10 draws on some of the most iconic and evocative car designs of all time to illustrate this excitement.”
Global creative team
The Prototype 10 has been designed under the direction of INFINITI’s new Executive Design Director, Karim Habib. The first project to come to fruition under his instruction, it hints at how INFINITI’s design teams will evolve and adapt the appearance of its production cars in future.
INFINITI’s design teams in Asia, Europe and North America have each been involved in the creation of Prototype 10 from its inception. A forward-looking project on a global scale, its creation has been masterminded by INFINITI’s Japan design center and forged digitally in the U.K. Evoking the spirit of early speedsters, it was to be expected that the project would be completed in San Diego, California – home of
North American design base.
The unveiling at the 2018 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is no accident. California has an automotive culture all of its own, with a rich vein of individual expression empowering car fans and gearheads alike to create their own unique, hand-built machines.
This instinct for challenging accepted automotive norms – aided by the ever-temperate weather – meant California was destined to become the spiritual home of the high-performance speedster. A similar passion for expression has driven INFINITI’s designers in creating the Prototype 10, a physical manifestation of the brand’s vision for vehicle electrification.
“California is intrinsically linked to the speedster body style and remains a cultural center for independent car tuning and coachbuilding to this day. Prototype 10 taps into this unique Californian ethos of self-expression, both in its design and its performance.” explains Karim Habib.
Karim Habib continues: “In designing Prototype 10, we wanted to explore how an INFINITI could look in future with the arrival of electrified powertrains. The idea of clean motoring is carried over in the car’s uncluttered, skyward-facing surfaces, while simple, geometric details provide a visual link to the notion of electrification and direct power.”
Evolution of Q Inspiration’s form language
A carefully crafted evolution of the design language first shown with the INFINITI Q Inspiration concept in 2018, the Prototype 10 is resolutely forward-looking in terms of its aesthetics. Like the Q Inspiration, the new design study proposes how the function of an advanced, electrified powertrain could be communicated in a stunning new form. While it retains the clean, uninterrupted surfaces of the Q Inspiration – an elongated, coupé-like sedan – the Prototype 10 telegraphs the performance benefits of electric powertrains with a more purposeful speedster configuration.
Clear, concise lines and confident proportions, without the body volume of the Q Inspiration, characterize the concept’s design. With a pared-back and more geometric form, the bodywork incorporates a series of austere, straight lines, which are particularly evident in the 90-degree relationship between the bodywork and the fin behind the driver’s head. Ultra-modern shapes and clean, abrupt lines, punctuate a design that would otherwise be characterized by the flowing nature of its bodywork.
“Prototype 10 follows the INFINITI Q Inspiration concept in introducing a new form language for an electrified era, hinting at electric performance of the highest order. Where the Q Inspiration presented a degree of sensuality in its surfaces, Prototype 10 evolves this design with more purpose and aggression.”
Design inspired by high-performance electric motoring
Roland Krueger comments: “Our electric vehicle architecture represents a turning point for our design teams, a chance to present alternative proportions with different shapes. This new design language prioritizes clean, efficient lines with which we can articulate a new, confident design language.”
In seeking to understand the way INFINITI’s vehicles will look in future, every element of the Prototype 10’s design links to the notion of electrification. As with the Q Inspiration concept, the clean, uninterrupted surfaces serve as a reference to the power source that provides an uninterrupted flow of electric propulsion.
The most obvious representation of the car’s performance is its low speedster layout and confident proportions, with its long bonnet and open cockpit contrasted by a dramatic fin behind the driver’s seat.
The steering wheel is the most visually arresting element of the cabin, mounted on lightweight carbon fiber struts that extrude out of the bodywork. There is no need for an intrusive steering column due to the presence of INFINITI’s steer-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering, providing lightning-fast responses to steering inputs. The shape of the struts holding the wheel in place is echoed in the form of the steeply raked wind guard, deflecting air over and around the driver’s head and into the cooling ducts. The small-diameter wheel itself adheres to motorsport principles, with a flat lower section and distinct grips for the driver’s hands – with no gears to change, an electrified powertrain means fewer physical distractions. Like the INFINITI ‘infinite road’ logo, the center of the wheel extends away from the driver, leading into a compact instrument display.
The single seat is trimmed in black leather, with red stitching matching the center of the wheel. Extended side and hip bolsters provide a snug fit and maximum possible lateral support. The seat is mounted as low in the cockpit as possible to help lower the overall center of gravity, with only the driver’s head visible above the bodywork – it is for this reason that INFINITI designers dubbed this aspect of Prototype 10 ‘The Bathtub’ during its creation.
Powertrain electrification strategy
From 2021, all-new INFINITI’s models will offer a mix of pure electric vehicles and e-POWER vehicles – demonstrating the full range of ultra-low emissions technology available. The Prototype 10 seeks to illustrate what drivers will come to associate with the brand’s electrified models. Echoing the performance traditions of the speedster, INFINITI will deliver electric performance of the highest order.
Delivering high performance in the smartest way possible, electric motors will be used to provide INFINITI vehicles with breathtaking off-the-line acceleration and thrilling speeds. By eliminating the need for external charging sources, INFINITI’s unique e-POWER models will also provide ‘range confidence’ for longer journeys.
INFINITI’s electrified vehicles will break down many of the perceived barriers to EV ownership. INFINITI e-POWER models in particular will eliminate the need for an external charging source, providing ‘range confidence’ for long journeys while delivering the same memorable and invigorating EV driving experience.
High performance remains a key tenet for INFINITI, with innovative drivetrain technologies applied to deliver truly electrifying performance. As hinted at by the Prototype 10, INFINITI’s electrified cars will enable rapid acceleration, high speeds, and intelligent energy management.
Karim Habib explains: “Electrification provides new opportunities for the design and layout of our cars. In accommodating batteries and electric motors, or employing smaller gasoline engines, we aren’t bound by the same physical restrictions. Prototype 10 shows how an electrified powertrain could fit within a lean, lightweight and daring body, and this enabled us to rethink the fundamental layout of the car.”
The unique layout of Prototype 10 suggests the approach that INFINITI will take in engineering its new cars. INFINITI’s EV and e-POWER powertrains offer greater packaging flexibility for INFINITI engineers, and afford new creative freedom in design.
Prototype 10 hints at the potential for INFINITI to adopt rigid, modular platforms with flat floors to underpin every one of its new electrified vehicles, and support a new era of design and packaging. Indeed, it’s due to the flat floor that the Prototype 10 driver’s seat can be situated so low in the chassis.
Modular platforms will enable INFINITI to apply e-POWER and battery EV powertrains in new and creative ways within chassis of all shapes and sizes – including sedans, SUVs and sports cars. Electrification also provides the opportunity to introduce a wider variety of drivetrains, including a new e-AWD system, underpinned by electric motor technology, to help transform perceptions of EV performance and power delivery.
Purely a design study at this stage, Prototype 10 nevertheless hints at the inherent flexibility of INFINITI’s approach to platform and powertrain development. The ducts and vents in Prototype 10’s body could enhance cooling for a battery pack, even INFINITI’s unique, performance focused e-POWER technology.