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Consumer Reports auto experts report from the 2012 New York Auto Show in New York City.
Infiniti LE Concept

What is it? A longer version of the all-electric Nissan Leaf with a shorter name, the LE applies the electric-car platform to an upscale sedan. The body is sized similarly with the Infiniti G, and it has a slippery drag coefficient of 0.25. 

I may be a natural to think LE might stand for “low emissions,” but in fact, the LE makes no emissions as an all-electric car. It uses the same 24-kWh lithium-ion battery pack as in the Leaf, in conjunction with a standard 50-kW quick-charge port (based on the Japanese ChaDeMo standard). Driver aids include access to Google search, Pandora Internet radio, and the ability to send directions from Google directly to the car’s navigation system. Using the system, called NissanConnect, LE drivers will not only be able to see the locations of nearby electric-car chargers, but also see which ones are in use in real time. 

What is new or notable: The LE is the first car from a major automaker to adopt Intel’s dual-view center display screen, which can show vehicle and navigation information to the driver, while simultaneously showing a movie that only the passenger can see.

CR’s take: The LE indicates how serious Infiniti’s parent-company Nissan is about electric cars. While it is a concept, Nissan said it plans to have such a car in showrooms in “near similar” form within two years. In an interview with Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn the day before the preview, Ghosn indicated the LE won’t be the last electric-powered new model from Infiniti. He indicated the company would also develop a plug-in hybrid system for the brand, targeting buyers who need to go farther than the Leaf’s or LE’s nominal 100-mile range.

When will it be available? Spring 2014.

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