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Waiting on technology, Infiniti will delay launch of EV 2 years

NASHVILLE — A new wireless concept for charging electric-vehicle batteries will be a critical part of the battery-powered luxury car that Infiniti plans to introduce. But that technology — called inductive charging — is not ready for the retail market, and so Infiniti is delaying its EV until the 2016 model year.

Infiniti has said for three years that it intended to introduce its EV — temporarily called the LE — in the 2014 model year. The inductive charging concept was revealed when the LE was presented at the 2012 New York auto show.

The advanced wireless system allows an owner simply to park the car on a charging mat to replenish the vehicle’s lithium ion battery module. No plug-in is required.

That high-tech feature is seen as a critical luxury product differentiation from other EVs now on the market, including the Nissan Leaf, which comes from the same platform as the future LE.

Andy Palmer, worldwide product planning chief for Infiniti and its parent company, Nissan Motor Co., says the delay does not indicate that Infiniti has lost its enthusiasm for the project. It is still eager to bring the LE to market, he says.

Palmer recently told Automotive News Europe that the LE also will contain a new-generation lithium ion battery that will increase driving range. “There are some interesting advances in electric technology we hadn’t anticipated when we showed the LE,” he said, “which, by delaying a little bit, we can incorporate into the car.”

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