The Q60 Project Black S prototype has been developed to its current state far more quickly than any other vehicle produced by INFINITI in the company’s existence. Beyond developing a unique new powertrain, this project embodies efforts by INFINITI to shorten the gestation period of new models. To-date, the Project Black S prototype has been in development for just 18 months.
Working in tandem with the Renault Sport Formula One Team has led to rapid prototyping and powertrain development from a small, focused and agile team of designers and engineers. The Renault Sport Formula One Team develops new race cars in under a year, making iterative improvements to aerodynamics, powertrains and energy management systems ‘on-the-fly’. The team frequently adapts different elements of their cars in between race weekends.
The team has been a positive source for disruption in the development program for Project Black S, with more responsibility placed in the hands of teams often made up of only two or three engineers or designers. This has helped to accelerate the development process, particularly in devising creative design and engineering solutions to problems posed by powertrain packaging.
Replacing a process that could take many years, the two Alliance partners have been able to rapidly develop and validate new motor generator units, cooling systems, computing technology, and an electrically-assisted twin-turbocharger system that must be able to stand up to sustained use on road and track.
The adoption of the MGU-H and MGU-K units necessitates specific management of air flow to aid powertrain cooling, and it was incumbent on the engineering and design teams to work in close collaboration to find a solution. This resulted in the creation of wider cooling ducts in the front bumper, two outlets in the bonnet to draw heat away from the turbochargers and MGU-H units, and aerodynamics which contribute to cooling the MGU-K situated behind the rear axle.
In addition to challenging INFINITI’s conventional development process, partnering with the Renault Sport Formula One Team has also given INFINITI access to more specialist development technologies. These include advanced digital validation tools for optimizing the car’s aerodynamics. Vehicle packaging and suspension have also been adapted in this way. The team’s experience with thermal management simulations proved critical in validating the durability and performance of the high-performance dual-hybrid system in its translation from track to road.
The next stages of the project – through 2019 – will see the prototype’s development shift from digital and dynamometer environments on to the track, for performance testing and validation in a range of real driving conditions.
Following the conclusion of ‘Project Black S’, INFINITI believes that elements of the prototype’s highly efficient development and validation process could be incorporated into development programs for future road cars, reducing their time-to-market.