Nissan Has Big Plans For Luxury Electric Infiniti LE, Will Not Be A Niche Product

JAN 29 2013 BY JAY COLE 16

2014 LE Will Be Everyday Part Of Infiniti's Vehicle Lineup

2014 LE Will Be Everyday Part Of Infiniti’s Vehicle Lineup

While electric vehicles like the Nissan LEAF, Chevrolet Volt, and Ford C-Max Energi are all fine examples of what a plug-in car can do.  Many consumers have been anxiety waiting to buy a more performance/luxury oriented EV from a major auto maker.

2014 Cadillac ELR - Unfortunately Priced And Produced With Some Exclusivity

2014 Cadillac ELR – Unfortunately Priced And Produced With Some Exclusivity

The two most popular options, both coming at the end of 2013, are the extended range Cadillac ELR, and the all-electric Infiniti LE.

Recently, the much-anticipated ELR made its official debut at the 2013 NAIAS. And while the production version of the Caddy was as visually pleasing as the concept (which rarely happens), GM let us down a little on production and pricing.

GM told shoppers to “get in fast and buy it. We’re only going to make so many, and for so long,” and that it would be priced “certainly not in the realm of your conventional car.”  Estimates now peg the car to start in the mid-60s.

So what of Infiniti and the LE?

Wireless Charging Standard On Infiniti LE (Hopefully it doesn't stay in rear of the car)

Wireless Charging Standard On Infiniti LE (Hopefully it doesn’t stay in rear of the car)

Nissan has big plans for the Infiniti brand, and its electric show car, which enters production at Nissan’s Smyrna, TN plant at the end of this year.

By the end of 2016, the company expects to increase overall sales of Infiniti to 500,000, with 40% of those sales coming in China.

And while the LE is not going to be a huge contributor to that figure, Andy Palmer, executive vice-president of Nissan, confirms that the LE will not onlystill be in production 4 years from now, but that Nissan projects to be selling 25,000 copies a year.

As a point of reference, 25,000 luxury LEs per year is 1,500 more plug-ins than any anyone else has sold in a year to date in the US.  (Chevy sold 23,461 Volts in  the US in 2012)

“It (the Infiniti LE) is not going to be a big contributor in terms of total volume, orders in a magnitude of about 25,000 units, but its part of the halo of the (Infiniti) portfolio.”


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16 Comments on "Nissan Has Big Plans For Luxury Electric Infiniti LE, Will Not Be A Niche Product"

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Oh boy….There they go again with their big sales projections. 25,000 in annual sales is a high projection for even a gasoline fueled luxury car in this segment, let alone an All-Electric sedan. I appreciate Nissan’s confidence, but how do they plan to sell that many exactly?

Four years from now? Huh. They originally were talking about a 2014 release if I remember correctly. Now it’s 2017?

Not sure but I think the Infiniti LA will be produced around the end of 2013 and is expected to still be in production come the end of 2016. Anyway, that was my take when I read the article  .

Yes. The 25k figure represents their estimate for 2016. The car enters production end of this year, with sales starting shortly therafter in 2014.

My fault on that Tom, the article could be read to suggest that Nissan was going to both start making the LE in 2016 and they planned to sell 25k. I’ll make it more clear.

Thanks Jay, That’s how I read it and I was taken aback. I spoke to Nissan people about the car last year(in depth) about it but I didn’t want to bring that up. I figured perhaps they delayed it because of slow LEAF sales. Thanks for clearing that up.

With production starting “at the end of THIS year,” see above, I think you missed that detail and locked on to the 25K volume project toward the END of the model’s production cycle in 2016. Still pretty optimistic, but at the right price point, and with a bigger battery system to get more like the entry level Model S range…..e.g. 40 kW battery, 160 mile REAL range, and an entry/base price of perhaps $42-44,000 it might be getting buyer attention. If not equipped with at least that level of range and pricing impact, Tesla’s next “mass market” model will simply blow them out of the market. IMHO, of course.

You think Nissan would have learned not to put target numbers out there after missing numbers on the LEAF. At least they didn’t quote a specific number for the US, they will be able to obscure the numbers a bit over the regions.

5% of all Infiniti sales is a pretty bold prediction, this has me kindof excited to see the production specs/pricing. They must be pretty confident that it will be a hit.

4 years from now – who will remember ? The execs in question would have moved on, may be no one will even remember. Does anyone care about all the things Lutz said about Volt 4 years back ?

Anyway, this was a timely reminder for me – so, I’ve to figure out whether to wait for the LE or lease the MY13 Leaf …

You owe it to yourself to at least get the specs on the LE before you decide!

I do, Lutz pushed GM to invest in modern technology after almost 50 years of engineering coma.

Think the 25,000 LE production number was taken out of context; reference being the global context of the 500,000 total Infiniti’s. Note: 200,000, or 40% produced/sold in China; currently the hottest global luxury vehicle market. 50-60% of 25,000 LE’s/year would imply 1000-1200/month for North America.

For further context, Nissan produced ~30,000 LEAFs globally in 2012 up from ~20,000 in 2011. A total of ~50,000 LEAFs on the planet! Only ~20,000 LEAFs are located in North America.

4th Quarter 2012 LEAF USA sales provide an interesting reference for 2013. October, November, & December LEAF sales all averaged above 1,500/month! If Nissan can sustain 1500/month sales through 2013, this would imply an (arm-chair) annual rate of 18,000 LEAFs. The new model, upgraded features & lower MSRP with N.America production coud make this a reality.

Hey Brian.

Yes the 25,000 per year in 2016 was in reference to worldwide, not just the US (where the bulk of Infinitis today are sold)

Voltec sold 30000 last year. You have to count Ampera also since they are all made in the same plant on the same platform.

Anyway. I am hoping this LE comes with a range closer to the Tesla S not the Leaf.

Since the photos of ELR and Infiniti’s LE show up on the same page,
it’s easy to compare and contrast the vast differences in their design
language. The LE being all rounded – flowy and evoking water streaming over
stones, and the ELR with it’s edge look, hard folds abounding like
a portly piece of Japanese origami. Two contrasting but attractive

The meat of this information seems to be that Nissan/Infinity is bullish
on electric cars – even if they are trying the luxury route to make some
sort of profit sense for the platinum-priced lithium battery pack. GM? –
Not so committed – as they still seem to be wallowing in what to do
with Voltec, as if its still some sort of science project with no hope of
making financial sense to anyone.

The Infiniti had better have a range that’s competitive with the Tesla Model S; otherwise why buy it? Or am I missing something?

Competition: YES!

Competition: Good!

The Infiniti should slot in below the base Model S, this is furtile ground in the
BEV marketplace. Cadillac’s ELR is the backfire heard ’round the world …
Because it could’ve been a luxury BEV that filled that space, but instead,
it’s a 2.85 seat coupe with doors large enough to be wings on an aircraft.
And this, at a price that’ll alienate all but a few rich golfers who feel the
need, the need for greeeeen cred. A successful implementation of LE
should make ELR look from dumb to dumber. Look at $45,000 for a
workable price goal and 200 miles range ( we can only hope ) to have
a realistic chance of financial success.

As usual, the LE’s challenge is RANGE, RANGE, RANGE. As for now,
America’s Tesla is the range king in the world of BEVs. To me, the LE
has to overcome the 150 mile range limitation to be relevant or stand
an ice cube’s chance in Haites of having financial success.