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Infiniti's electric push will see the end of rear-wheel drive

Infiniti's electric push will see the end of rear-wheel drive

by Drew Johnson

Infiniti will abandon rear-wheel drive in about 3 years.

Infiniti's forthcoming to switch to electrified powertrains will see the company abandon its current rear-drive platforms. From 2021 on, no new Infiniti models will be offered with rear-wheel drive.

That's a dramatic shift from the rear-wheel drive strategy Infiniti put into place in the early 2000s to battle the likes of Mercedes-Benz and BMW in the luxury car segment. Infiniti currently sells three rear-wheel drive passenger car models — the Q50, Q60 and Q70.

However, all three of those models ride on the company's rear-drive FM platform, which dates all the way back to 2001. Because of its age, Infiniti says it would be impossible to upgrade the FM architecture to accept an electrified powertrain. As a result, it will be put out to pasture as Infiniti transitions to an electrified future.

"We are going to have to shift because this platform is not an electrified platform,” Infiniti Motor Company product strategy vice-president Francois Bancon told Australia's GoAuto, referring to the FM platform. "You need a battery, you need an electric motor, it's a different package.”

Last month Infiniti announced that it would only introduce electrified vehicles from 2021 on.

Infiniti is currently working on an all-new platform that will accommodate electrified powertrains, but it likely won't be ready until that 2021 deadline. That means that the Q50, Q60 and Q70 will soldier on in their current forms until then. By that time the Q70 will be over a decade old, and its prospects for the U.S. market aren't looking good. Bancon says the next Q70 might be exclusively sold in China, where sedans still remain fairly popular.

Details on that new platform remain scarce, but it's likely to be all-wheel drive with a 50/50 power split between the front and rear wheels. Although pure EV capabilities are expected to be baked in, the new architecture will likely launch as a conventional hybrid without a plug-in option. Vehicles based on the new platform will certainly be more efficient than today's models, but rumor has it Infiniti is tuning the electrified system more for performance than all-out efficiency.