Super powered performance and the Sally Wing, named for its 24-year-old designer
Everyone is gunning for Tesla these days: Luxury cars of the future that with lead sustainability, innovative technology, high design and disrupting the status quo in automotive.
We told you how BMW will shift its entire lineup to electric, how Jaguar is using Formula E racing to develop new technology, how Audi is building a future on electric SUVs that consumers have said they want and how Ford’s research and development lab is focused on simulating and testing for NASCAR. Infiniti is up there with them, innovating an electrification model that will dominate its cars by 2021. All this means it’s completely plausible that your next car could be an electric car.
So you better get ready.
The Next Era of Infiniti: Hyper efficiency through hyper speed
At the 2018 Mondial l’Auto Paris Motor Show Infiniti introduced its next step in that mission: Project Black S, a novel approach to hybrid technology that takes it all a step further. Traditional hybrids recapture unused energy from braking and cruising, storing it in a battery for use when idling and driving at low speeds. Infiniti’s system actually harvests energy created by the twin turbo V6 400 horsepower gas-fueled engine, doubling the amount of energy stored and using it to boost performance–up to 563 horsepower in top mode– not simply to save fuel.
Infiniti developed this system in partnership with Formula One to create a performance car that will win hearts and increase heart rates on the track. Research and development that is honed on the track has become the industry norm, spurring innovations across the industry, from fuel efficiency to autonomous driving.
This Super Car Has a Familiar, Sexy Shape
However, these cars are often unfamiliar creatures, sized and shaped purely for racing; with Project Black S that’s not the case at all: It’s built from the Infiniti Q60 coupe, keeping the car’s elegant silhouette and graceful lines.
“We made very few changes,” chief designer Alfonso Albaisa told me as he described the two major details that differ from the coupe that was inspired by Miami, his childhood home. The engineering team needed to add more air vents to expel hot air from the engine, so carbon fiber vents were added to the hood. And a performance wing was added to the rear to both channel air efficiently away from the rear and to keep the rear end anchored to the road.
The Q60 coupe, however, is a four passenger two door car and the Project Black S is a two passenger car. When will this technology make it to a four door or four passenger car? “I’m not sure,” Alfonso laughed, agreeing that a car like this is more fun when you can take everyone along.
Meet Sally Lee, the 24-Year-Old Master of Performance Technology
Producing the wing proved a challenge. The development team, which includes a number of young engineers in the Infiniti Engineering Academy, collaborated on much of the development of Project Black S. Sally Lee, a native of Chengdu, China is the only girl on the team. When the wing challenge came up she submitted a design, which she didn’t think would be used. In fact, another design had been chosen and tested, but it wasn’t effective enough. So they tried out Sally’s and it is the design that they went with. Sally was thrilled and surprised to learn that her wing design was the winning choice, and that her design will be part of the introduction of Project Black S, which will hit tracks at the end of this year and be introduced into the market in 2019. And the official name of the wing is the Sally Wing.
As humbled as Sally was to have her design implemented for Infiniti’s entree to the performance world, she is just as thrilled to be forging new territory for women. “If you like cars, like engineering, and want to change the world by engineering thinking,” Sally says, “do what you want, don’t care what boys say, believe in yourself. That’s what I did.”
And, that thinking is what is changing our world: challenging the norms, turning passions into reality, proving that your beliefs can lead to innovation. The future really is electric.