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Tennessee students help Infiniti join land yacht with water yacht

Thu, 28 Jul 2011

The Infiniti QX56 is already a land yacht. Its 400-hp V8 can push the three-ton SUV with aplomb, even stacked to the gills with people and stuff, or with a boat attached. And what would go best with a big, gaudy towing vehicle? A big, fast powerboat.

The automaker partnered with students from Tennessee Technical Center-Nashville and Nashville State Community College to install the QX56's 5.6-liter engine and seven-speed transmission in a powerboat. It's up to the students to figure out how to do that. The rest of the vehicle was donated to the Tennessee Technical Center for use in its auto shop.

"The genesis for the Infiniti QX-powered luxury-boat project came about when a group of us were talking about our full-size SUVs standing as the perfect luxury tow vehicle," Infiniti Americas vice president Ben Poore said. "So, what better object to tow than a boat custom-outfitted to QX-inspired standards."

The assignment involved not only extracting the engine and transmission from the QX, but figuring out how to make it work on water. The starter motor and engine-control unit are also being used, but items such as power steering and the air-conditioning unit need to be deleted. Engineers from the nearby Nissan plant in Decherd, Tenn., lent their experience to the job.

The project is set to debut by the next boating season. Infiniti will provide updates on its Facebook and Twitter pages along the way. Fans and friends will be invited to name the cruiser when it's finished.

By Jake Lingeman