Infiniti to serve as alliance's tech showcase

Q50: Gets high-tech updates

TOKYO — Infiniti will tap into new technologies from across the Renault-Nissan Alliance to burnish its high-tech cred and serve as the alliance’s showcase for premium performance.

Infiniti President Roland Krueger said the push will marshal expertise from both Asian and European r&d centers, as Renault and Nissan incorporate Mitsubishi as a partner and the alliance’s combined global sales volume reaches nearly 10 million vehicles.

The technology strategy will go on display this week at the Geneva auto show, where Infiniti will unveil features that highlight the interplay of Nissan and Renault engineering teams.

A midcycle update of the Q50 sedan will include autonomous driving and steer-by-wire systems developed with parent company Nissan Motor Co. Meanwhile, a so-called Project Black S concept car based on the Q60 coupe will roll out a new performance hybrid technology developed with Renault.

“We are the premium brand of the alliance,” Krueger said by phone from Infiniti’s Hong Kong headquarters. “It exemplifies what benefits we have within the alliance, and what we can do in the future with those engineers.”

Sharing resources

The push is part of Carlos Ghosn’s strategy to maximize shared resources across the French and Japanese carmakers he oversees as chairman. Nissan took a controlling stake in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. late last year, adding it to the alliance in Ghosn’s quest for ever bigger economies of scale.

The Q50 refresh focuses on high-tech updates. It gets the brand’s second-generation steer-by-wire system and will be the first Infiniti to package all the company’s self-driving features under the new banner of ProPilot Assist.

“Most importantly, we worked on the technology of the car,” Krueger said. “As a luxury brand we need to show our competence there.”

The Q50 update goes on sale this year for the 2018 model year.

Infiniti’s ProPilot

ProPilot is the name Nissan Motor Co. gives to the group’s line of autonomous driving features. Infiniti’s ProPilot system will bundle the car’s existing autonomous functions, including active lane keeping, backup collision prevention, intelligent cruise control, forward emergency braking, lane departure prevention and blind spot intervention.

ProPilot made its global debut last year in the Japan-market Nissan Serena family van and is part of a ramp-up to fully autonomous driving by 2020.

The Serena ProPilot system differs by enabling automatic stop-and-go driving in heavy traffic and automated steering in low-speed driving.

Infiniti’s ProPilot system will adopt those more advanced functions in 2018, in a nameplate other than the Q50, Krueger said.

Infiniti was one of the first automakers to market steer-by-wire technology, when it deployed the feature in the Q50 in 2013. The technology replaces the mechanical connection between the driver’s hands and the front wheels, enabling more precise electronic control and more comfortable feedback.

The updated version offers a more direct feeling, Infiniti says. It also carries updates that are better geared toward future autonomous driving systems by enabling more instantaneous steering reaction.

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