Detroit auto show: Infiniti previews electric future with SUV concept

Henry Payne
The Detroit News
Infiniti QX Inspiration electric concept

Taking another step toward an electric future, Infiniti on Friday revealed the QX Inspiration electric concept ahead of its of its introduction at the Detroit auto show on Jan. 14.

The QX Inspiration SUV is Infiniti’s second design concept in as many North American International Auto Shows, following the sleek Q Inspiration sedan that debuted in January 2018.

With the U.S. auto market hog-wild for utes, the QX Inspiration positions the automaker to go into production with its first electrified vehicle for the 2021 model year.

With its Q-ship, Infiniti hopes to catch up to luxury competitors in hot pursuit of EV pioneer Tesla. Jaguar brought its first crossover EV, the I-Pace, to market in late 2018 and Audi is following it with the e-tron SUV this year. Other manufacturers including Porsche and China's Byton have products in the pipeline for 2020.

Infiniti QX Inspiration electric concept

“QX Inspiration is the beginning of a new era for Infiniti and an illustration of where we want to go with the brand," said design chief Karim Habib, "New technology has given us the opportunity to evolve our design philosophy – and the new vehicle communicates the serene strength at our core.”

The grille-less, narrow-headlight face of the QX Inspiration mirrors that of the Q concept, but the body rides higher than the more athletic-looking, four-door coupe concept.

Where the 2018 Q Inspiration debuted the company's compact, fuel-efficient, variable-compression turbo gas-engine technology, the QX concept showcases an all-electric drive-train. Infiniti has said battery power will come in two forms — all-electric or with battery-power assisted by a small gas engine. 

By 2025, Nissan's luxury automaker expects that half of its sales will be battery-powered.

Without a gas engine under the hood, Infiniti also says the QX Inspiration foreshadows production vehicles with "spacious, lounge-like interiors." Infiniti only released a photograph of the QX concept's exterior, but expect the interior to contain elements of the Q sedan concept's roomy interior, including a wrap-around dash screen and hand-crafted design touches.

In production trim, the QX Inspiration will parallel the brand's successful gas-powered SUVs. The mid-size, two-and-three-row Infiniti QX60 SUV was the brand's best-seller in 2018.

Henry Payne is auto critic for The Detroit News. Find him at or Twitter @HenryEPayne. Catch “Car Radio with Henry Payne” from noon-2 p.m. Saturdays on 910 AM Superstation.