The Infiniti of Nissan challenges Tesla in a massive change to electric

But the Leaf will also get company in the coming years. Le Vot also announced in Detroit that Nissan will have eight fully electric models in its global fleet by 2022. Partners of the Renault and Mitsubishi alliance are presenting four more. Only the Japanese manufacturer is predicting that it will see around 1 million BEVs per year by the middle of the decade.

While the Nissan brand will continue to market conventional-powered gas and diesel models for the foreseeable future, the Infiniti division is planning an even more aggressive transformation, said Christian Meunier, the newly-appointed CEO of the Infiniti brand, based in Hong Kong.

As of 2021, all products will be electrified, he said in an interview. In the case of Infiniti, that means both vehicles with electric batteries and what are known as series connection hybrids. These have extended-range gas engines on board, but if they are turned on they only serve as generators, sending power to the electric motors that actually drive the wheels.

"It will take around two to three years" to phase out conventional transmissions, Meunier estimated.

Infiniti suffered a shameful moment in the car show on Monday, when its concept of QX Inspiration was not initially implemented on the stage, as planned, due to a problem with its electrical transmission. Despite this setback, Meunier called the prototype "the embodiment of our future in the form of a surprising electric crossover."

The QX Inspiration is loaded with luxury features, including a marble center console and a red Japanese wood roof lining. But just like the Nissan IM with a less exotic finish, what really matters is the actual design of the vehicle.

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