5 Really Cool Hybrid Concepts -- No. 1: The Infinity Essence

Scott Benjamin

The Infinity Essence hybrid concept car (Infinity)

I guess it's inevitable. But I truly didn't start this list with any intent of crowning a champion or to actually proclaim one car as superior to any other car; however, it just so happens that's the way I feel about the number one vehicle on my list. Actually, there are a lot of reasons why the Infinity Essence deserves the number one spot. In fact, I can think of 592 reasons.

The Infinity Essence hybrid concept was unveiled at the International Motor Show of Geneva (Switzerland) in March 2009. It's a front-engine, rear-wheel-drive gas/electric luxury coupe that, according to the official Infinity press release, claims to have a "minimalist and intensely driver-focused interior." I think you'll be convinced if you give the press release a quick read and take a little time to browse through the images of the Essence at the bottom of the page.

In my opinion, even simply based on looks alone (inside and out), this car really steals the show. There are so many features and technologies at play in the Essence that it's just not possible for me to list all of them in this post; however, just to whet your appetite, the list includes side-view cameras, LEDs, paddle shifters and a long list of advanced safety technologies (the first two are already found in Infinity's production models), including Lane Departure Prevention (LDP), Distance Control Assist (DCA), Back-up Collision Prevention (BCP) and Side Collision Prevention (SCP). These additional features, Infinity says, "extend the anti-collision shield all the way around the car." Again, you can read all about it in the Infinity press release.

But enough about the design, let's get to why the Infinity Essence qualified for this list in the first place: the hybrid drivetrain. Or maybe I should say the incredible hybrid drivetrain?

To me, this is simply amazing: The Infinity Essence is capable of all-electric, zero-emissions driving in certain conditions and then capable of a whopping 592 horsepower at other times! That's unbelievable...seriously. And here's how Infinity did it: They started with a 3.7-liter, dual overhead cam (DOHC), V-6 engine and then added direct-injection and twin turbochargers to reach 434 horsepower. Infinity then combined the already strong engine with a newly designed 3D electric motor (more about this in a moment) to boost the power by another 158 horses, for a combined total of 592 horsepower when the Essence is in "power assist" mode. Awesome!

So what about that new electric motor? Well, Infinity says, "Essence previews a new type of electric motor, called 3D Motor, that was designed to meet tough requirements on size and power output. The result is a particularly slim, disk-shaped motor that has twice the torque of a conventional unit." Now, I think that's really exciting! Aside from its use in the Essence concept, if Infinity can get the new 3D motor into its hybrid production cars anytime soon, I'm guessing that we may see hybrid cars perform at a whole new level. So long (hybrid car) 10-second zero to 60 times! At least I hope so, anyway.

Now do you see what I mean? That's why I think the Infinity Essence is deserving of the number one spot on my list. Let me know if you agree.

More related stuff: How Hybrid Cars Work Future Hybrid Car Pictures How Electric Motors Work How Car Engines Work How Horsepower Works

...and just to keep you up to speed: No. 5: The Toyota Volta No. 4: The Citroen C-Metisse No. 3: The Honda CR-Z No. 2: The Antro Solo