Andy Palmer, Nissan’s head of global planning, said this week that the Infiniti LE has been delayed to give the company more time to develop the vehicle’s battery and charging technology.
EV watchers have been eagerly anticipating the LE since the concept was unveiled at the 2012 New York Auto Show. In June, however, Infiniti’s recently-hired CEO, Johan de Nysschen, announced that the project had been put on indefinite hold.
Some wondered if Nissan was losing its interest in electrics, noting that de Nysschen had made dismissive comments about plug-ins in the past. Other speculated that Infiniti had concluded that the LE couldn’t compete against Tesla’s Model S, which is outselling most of the gas-powered sedans in its class.
That’s not the case, according to Palmer. “Our heart is still in zero emissions,” he told Automotive News Europe in an interview. He gave no new launch date for the LE (it had been scheduled for 2015), but said, “It’s still within our mid-term plan.”
“There are some interesting advances in electric technology we hadn’t anticipated when we showed the LE, which, by delaying a little bit, we can incorporate into the car,” Palmer said.
He said that the wireless charging system planned for the LE is being delayed by the failure of a dominant system to emerge from competing technologies and a lack of regulatory compliance. He also said that new lithium-ion battery technology in the pipeline is such a significant advance that it alone justifies delaying the LE launch.