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Paris Motor Show: Infiniti details Project Black S hybrid

by Drew Johnson

The concept could preview a future production model.

Infiniti has released full details on its Project Black S concept car. The high-performance Infiniti coupe is making its global debut this week at the Paris Motor Show.

According to Infiniti, Project Black S, which is based on the Q60 Red Sport, was designed to test the waters for a potential sport grade for future Infiniti models. And that would be quite the sport grade, based on the Project Black S' long list of features.

The exterior of the Project Black S not only boast a number of aerodynamic improvements over the standard Q60, but also wears a body made out of mostly carbon fiber to save weight. Infiniti has also replaced the Q60's standard brakes with a set of carbon-ceramic discs.

The heart of the Project Black S is a dual-hybrid system that was co-developed with the Renault Sport Formula One team. The system uses the Q60's 400 horsepower turbocharged 3.0L V6 paired with an electric motor for a total system output of 563 horsepower. Shifting power to the rear wheels through a seven-speed automatic transmission, Infiniti says the Project Black S can accelerate from 0-60 in less that four-seconds.

The Project Black S' hybrid system is unique in that it can charge the onboard 4.4 kWh lithium-ion battery pack in two different ways -- like a normal hybrid, the Project Black S can recharge its battery via regenerative braking, but the car's twin-turbos have also been fitted with a pair of motor generators that can harvest energy from heat gasses. As a result, the Project Black S can recharge its battery during braking and acceleration.

That stored energy can be used in one of two ways -- the system can feed power back into the drivetrain for a 120 kW boost, or the system can electrically spool up the engine's turbos to eliminate lag.

"In 1977, the Renault RS01 was the first to introduce turbocharging to Formula One - a technology that would define an era for the sport. Today, the Renault RS18 uses a dual-hybrid powertrain, honed with Infiniti's assistance over several years," said Jerome Stoll, President, Renault Sport Formula One Team. "The Project Black S engineering prototype is the first indication of how cutting-edge motorsport powertrains could be used to create thrilling hybrid cars. Project Black S demonstrates a mutual passion across the Alliance in shaping the future of the sports car."

The Project Black S is no lightweight (the concept tips the scales at 3,915 pounds), but its gas-electric drivetrain actually makes its power-to-weight ratio nearly 40 percent higher than the standard Q60 Red Sport. Infiniti also notes that the hybrid system has been mounted low in the car's chassis for an improved center of gravity.

Infiniti is still evaluated the merits of a performance car like the Project Black S, but even if it doesn't make production, we could eventually see a toned down version of its hybrid drivetrain under the hood of future Infiniti models. Infiniti has already announced plans to offer only electrified vehicles from 2021 on, and it would make sense to utilized the company's current engine line as a jumping point.