The annual Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, the signature event of California’s sprawling Monterey Car Week, has traditionally been the place where the finest vintage cars are paraded around alongside their wealthy owners. But Pebble Beach is also turning into a show for new cars; it’s typical for at least one automaker to unveil a concept car at Pebble each year. This year, it’s Infiniti.
Called the Prototype 10, the car has a sleek, roofless, “speedster” body with a cut-down windshield, making it look a bit like a vintage race car. The only other details Infiniti would provide were that the design was a collaboration between teams in Japan, the United States, and the United Kingdom, and that the concept will have an electrified powertrain, meaning hybrid or all-electric.
“Our new concept provides clues to where the Infiniti brand is heading,” Infiniti design boss Karim Habib said in a statement.” For us, electrification means performance — our electrified cars will be powerful, efficient, and a joy to drive, and the new concept is a physical representation of our electrified performance future.” Habib said that by combining a modern electrified powertrain with a retro body, Infiniti sought to find “inspiration in an optimistic bygone era in which cars were characterized by the simple love of driving.
It’s something Infiniti has tried before. In 2017, the automaker created waves at Pebble Beach when it unveiled the Prototype 9, which had a design inspired by classic race cars from the 1940s and 1950s, but featured a modern electric powertrain based on Nissan Leaf components. It was a bit odd since Infiniti’s history doesn’t stretch as far back as the era the Prototype 9 referenced (Infiniti was launched in 1989). Still, the Prototype 9 proved popular, and will be a tough act to follow.
Infiniti’s focus on electrified concept cars will soon translate to its production cars. The automaker plans to offer a hybrid or all-electric powertrain in every model by 2021, and will launch its first all-electric production car that same year. Infiniti expects hybrids and electric cars to comprise more than half its global sales by 2025.
Infiniti parent Nissan plans to sell 1 million electric cars and hybrids by 2022, and many other automakers have announced ambitious electrification plans of their own. It’s a response to stricter emissions standards. While the current presidential administration has cast the future of U.S. emissions standards into doubt, China and the European Union will likely move ahead with tougher rules, possibly including outright bans on sales of new internal-combustion cars in some European countries.
Updated: Added full rendering and confirmation of the Prototype 10 name