Infiniti unveils potentially autonomous crossover soon to be built in Mexico
Infiniti unveiled a concept model for the redesigned 2018 QX50, the compact crossover that Nissan’s luxury brand plans to produce at its soon-to-open Mexico facility.
Making its global premiere at the 2017 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the QX50 Concept showcases Infiniti’s vision for a next-generation mid-size premium crossover.
A ‘cabin-forward’ silhouette combines with muscular lines and flowing surfaces to telegraph its purpose as a dynamic and practical crossover.
The organic forms of the ‘driver-centric, passenger-minded’ cabin were designed in harmony with the exterior shape. Blending progressive design with modern craftsmanship, the QX50 Concept’s interior reflects Infiniti’s desire to challenge conventional approaches to premium interior design.
This latest concept is the next step toward the company’s future autonomous drive support technologies. Central to the strategy for the development of all future Infiniti autonomous drive support systems, they ensure the driver retains ultimate control over their vehicle.
Furthermore, the QX50 Concept illustrates a potential application for Infiniti’s advanced Variable Compression Turbo (VC-Turbo) engine, a four-cylinder plant that will put out the power of a larger V-6, according to the company.
“This car has the potential of become one of our biggest volume sellers,” Infiniti President Roland Krueger said. “We can be confident because it’s going into the biggest growth segment, which is the D SUV segment. You can see with the current model how successful we can be.”
As the QX50 reached the end of its life cycle, it was re-engineered with a slightly longer wheelbase to satisfy the Chinese market. That small change made it possible for Infiniti to more than triple U.S. sales of the model to 16,973 units last year. It also demonstrated that there was significant demand for the product, which went on sale in 2007 as the EX. Two years earlier in 2014, the model posted only 2,727 sales.
“This car is going to get autonomous-drive functions as the next step,” Krueger said. “It will have shift-by-wire and steer-by-wire, so we can engage and disengage the gears, so we have stop-and-go traffic possibilities for autonomous drive. We’re going to be the leader in the segment.”
Krueger said the autonomous-drive package will become available soon after the new model launches.
“You’ll have a choice. You can have the car without those functions if the customer chooses,” he said.
The QX50 also will have a new sourcing plan, no longer imported from Japan. Late this year, its production will start at a new US$ 2 billion assembly plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico, co-owned by Nissan Motor Co. and Daimler. The plant also will produce vehicles for Mercedes-Benz starting in 2018.