Prototype 9 by Infiniti

Infiniti is far from the first luxury automotive brand to show off an electric car concept in the wake of fending off Tesla and other startups, but Nissan’s upscale division has taken the 2018 Leaf’s heart and run in a very different direction.

Once a classic car show for the rich and famous, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held annually on the outskirts of Monterey, California, has become a venue where high-end automakers go to strut their stuff. The action this year will include a brand-new Infiniti concept inspired by the cars that tore up race tracks in the 1940s and 1950s.

Inspired by an emerging era of Japanese motorsport and aeronautic design, Prototype 9 is powered by a prototype electric motor and battery from Nissan Motor Corporation’s Advanced Powertrain Department. This nod to the future contrasts with the traditional materials and techniques applied for the Prototype 9’s construction, including panels hand-beaten by a team of Takumi, which are Nissan Motor’s master artisans.

Infiniti says its show car is a “heritage-inspired prototype vehicle that captures the ingenuity and adventure of early motor sports with the brand’s contemporary design language.” The Infiniti Prototype 9 is packing Nissan’s newest EV technology under a striking body, mixing old and new. But why does it look like a 1940s racecar? After all, Infiniti doesn’t have a mid-20th century racing history because it was a brand created in 1989. “It started as a simple thought – what if we found a car, down at the Southern tip of Japan, buried deep in a barn, hidden from all eyes for 70 years? What would this discovery look like?” That’s the explanation behind the concept given by Infiniti’s senior VP for design Alfonso Albaisa.

A 148-horsepower electric motor, with 236 pound-feet of torque, and a 30kWh battery, powers the rear wheels through a single-speed transmission. At racing speed it is said the battery will last about 20 minutes. The rear-wheel drive racer can reach 0-62 mph in 5.5 seconds, with a max speed of 106 mph.