Infiniti Plans Major Product Blitz
- Infiniti told Edmunds at the 2013 New York Auto Show that it is planning a major product blitz in the next several years that will include three compact cars.
- Infiniti's model line will be expanded with the addition of an electric vehicle based on the Nissan Leaf, said Infiniti President Johan de Nysschen.
- Longer term, beyond 2018, two large performance cars and an Audi R8 competitor are possibilities.
NEW YORK — Infiniti told Edmunds at the 2013 New York Auto Show that it is planning a major product blitz in the next several years that will include three compact cars. The first model is scheduled to appear in 2015.
Additionally, the automaker is in the process of determining whether to add two crossovers aimed at Audi and Lexus shoppers, and more expensive, faster models.
"We will be expanding our model line downwards as well as upwards to create more high-performance cars, more luxury cars and more really high-end image, aspirational cars to complement the lineup," Infiniti President Johan de Nysschen told Edmunds during an interview at the 2013 New York Auto Show.
De Nysschen said Infiniti's model line will be expanded with the addition of an electric vehicle based on the Nissan Leaf. Sales will begin in late 2015 or 2016. Also on the horizon is the redesigned Infiniti FX, which he said "is a few years out, at least three years."
The product blitz is the centerpiece of the automaker's global effort to reinvent the brand. Specifically, last June de Nysschen, the former head of Audi of America, was named the global head of Infiniti; the global headquarters was relocated to Hong Kong from Japan, and in December Infiniti was turned into a subsidiary of Nissan. He is in the process of hand picking his global team.
Additionally, nearly all of Infiniti's nameplates will be abandoned and replaced with a new naming structure. All cars will be designated by the letter "Q" followed by a two-digit number. For example, the replacement for the G37 is now called the Q50. Larger, more expensive models will have a higher numerical designation, such as Q70, the new name of the M model. Smaller, lower-priced cars will have a lower numerical designation. The Q50 is the first model brought to the market with the new naming strategy.
Crossover and sport utilities will be known as "QX" and will have similar numerical designations.
The names for the upcoming compact models were not revealed. The cars will be developed on a front-drive vehicle platform that Mercedes-Benz is engineering. Additionally, the Infiniti branded models will share Mercedes engines.
De Nysschen suggested that a compact crossover with all-wheel drive and a sedan would be two of the Infiniti models. The sedan would be priced to compete with the 2014 Mercedes-Benz CLA and the redesigned 2014 Audi A3 sedans that go on sale this fall.
While the cars will be smaller than other Infiniti models, de Nysschen said there will be no tradeoffs in terms of product development.
"We will have compact models that exhibit all of Infiniti's qualities — fit and finish, craftsmanship, meticulous engineering of advanced technologies," he said. The main difference is each car will be offered "in a small package because it happens that there are people who want small cars."
As for adding other models, he said Infiniti "might have two interesting vehicles to combat" the Audi Q5 and Lexus RX.
Longer term, beyond 2018, two large performance cars and an Audi R8 competitor are possibilities, he said.
"I could imagine a high-performance, luxury (four-door) saloon positioned above the Q70, and I could image a four-seater sports version of that, a coupe, a two door," he said.
However, "I don't think we are looking at some kind of a supercar sports car like the Audi R8, Lexus (LFA) or the Acura (NSX). I think those cars have a role in our future but not yet. We (first) want to create stepping stones."
Edmunds says: Infiniti's new boss has some big plans for the brand, but, surprisingly, a halo car based on the Nissan GT-R does not appear to be an immediate priority.