What's wrong with Infiniti?

ssun30

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Basically, all Japanese luxury brands can cure their problems by going back to their Bubble Era roots. But it also requires the country to go back to the Miracle Era mentality: confidence in the future and willingness to risk.

It would be financially impossible for either Infiniti or Acura to create a full lineup. Their parent companies are too broke. Infiniti cannot be saved by making a GT-R, like how NSX did next to nothing for Acura.

Unless Japan can go back to positive population and economic growth, I don't see anything positive from the non-Toyota half of their car industry.
 

CRSKTN

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Basically, all Japanese luxury brands can cure their problems by going back to their Bubble Era roots. But it also requires the country to go back to the Miracle Era mentality: confidence in the future and willingness to risk.

It would be financially impossible for either Infiniti or Acura to create a full lineup. Their parent companies are too broke. Infiniti cannot be saved by making a GT-R, like how NSX did next to nothing for Acura.

Unless Japan can go back to positive population and economic growth, I don't see anything positive from the non-Toyota half of their car industry.
The answer is more diversification, decentralization, and regional specialization. Toyota needs to act like a global company, not just label itself one.
 

mikeavelli

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US lux brand sales 2019 FYI
Wow, this was eye opening.
BMW/Benz sold twice as many cars as Acura
Lexus a solid third right below 300k

Audi/Tesla fighting for fourth/fifth. Very close.

Caddy/Acura fighting for sixth/seventh. Very close

Infiniit/Lincoln at the bottom fighting for eighth and ninth. Very close
 

mikeavelli

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Nissan's mistake was not using the GT R as a nitrous injection for the infiniti brand.

Infiniti should have basically been "Project GT R Extreme Sport/ G T R Luxury".

You make everything a derivative of it. You use the AWD on everything. SUVs, Sedans, etc.

If you had a G** named vehicle, as a smaller brother to the GT R, and undercut the german competition on price, how is that not like the same relative market niche the GT R has for targeting supercars, but for the M3 level vehicle segment. An M3 fighter with Infiniti styling, and an architecture that could be described as baby godzilla, at a very competitive price? Killer. It would earn a lot of mindshare for the rest of the lineup.

They should have leaned into performance. Offered higher performance as a trademark of the lineup than competitors. Their styling is great, they've done fine on that mostly. More variety would be good, and detail work is behind the competition, and they need new interior people, but great otherwise.
I would have liked to see an Infiniti version of the GT-R as their halo. I never could understand how their best vehicle for both brands is a Nissan and not an Infiniti. Great post.

They also showcase too many concepts they never produce. The last two was the Eau Rouge Q50 with the GT-R engine/drivetrain they hyped eveyrone about and didn't build.


Then the F1 influenced Q60 Project S.

 

LexsCTJill

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US lux brand sales 2019 FYI
Tesla really is gaining marketshare. I think Mercedes ads in their van sales for the commercial vans and the Metris. I had no idea BMW is number one. Good for them, as it takes so much heat for the exterior designs and their interiors which everybody says it’s behind
 

Levi

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My post is indirectly related to the 2021 IS thread, and namely a bad example TMC should not follow.

I am no CEO, and do not have Renault-Nissan internal data, but some decision maker has to take the blame. Carlos Gohsn?

Infiniti had successful cars, probably because they were good Nissans (Z, GT,...) and specially the FX/QX70. Infiniti had falling sales, no FX successor, by today's marketing standards dated Q50/Q60. Some years ago they said Infiniti would be an electric only brand. Where are these cars? With the success of Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe, an electric FX to compete against TMX and now Audi e-Tron and Mercedes EQC, and an electric Q50 to compete against the TM3 and coming BMW i4 should have been on sale. Even the EX should have been electric to compete with the Audi Q4, instead of the FWD Nissan based thing.

That is a huge strategic mistake, even if in those days BEVs were not so imminent. Hell, even the new Leaf is just a huge facelift.

Who was in charge? Carlos? With the situation, will Nissan have the resources to revive Infiniti as a BEV brand?

Lexus should not make the same mistake. If no proper IS, the electric IS is way more important, more than a Toyota electric sedan.
 

mikeavelli

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My post is indirectly related to the 2021 IS thread, and namely a bad example TMC should not follow.

I am no CEO, and do not have Renault-Nissan internal data, but some decision maker has to take the blame. Carlos Gohsn?

Infiniti had successful cars, probably because they were good Nissans (Z, GT,...) and specially the FX/QX70. Infiniti had falling sales, no FX successor, by today's marketing standards dated Q50/Q60. Some years ago they said Infiniti would be an electric only brand. Where are these cars? With the success of Nissan Leaf and Renault Zoe, an electric FX to compete against TMX and now Audi e-Tron and Mercedes EQC, and an electric Q50 to compete against the TM3 and coming BMW i4 should have been on sale. Even the EX should have been electric to compete with the Audi Q4, instead of the FWD Nissan based thing.

That is a huge strategic mistake, even if in those days BEVs were not so imminent. Hell, even the new Leaf is just a huge facelift.

Who was in charge? Carlos? With the situation, will Nissan have the resources to revive Infiniti as a BEV brand?

Lexus should not make the same mistake. If no proper IS, the electric IS is way more important, more than a Toyota electric sedan.
True. They were initially going to invest heavy in BEV then did a complete 180. A shame they might have been ahead of the curve.
 

Joaquin Ruhi

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We should know more May 28 when parent Nissan will announce its 3-year plan going forward. A Bloomberg story includes some advance leaks on what to expect (such as the Datsun brand being killed again) and they say that the Infiniti brand will be "revitalized" without further explaining what that means. We'll see...
 

suxeL

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We should know more May 28 when parent Nissan will announce its 3-year plan going forward. A Bloomberg story includes some advance leaks on what to expect (such as the Datsun brand being killed again) and they say that the Infiniti brand will be "revitalized" without further explaining what that means. We'll see...
Probably:
I assume we should add the launch of the Next generation people mover QX60
Finacial tightening on the lease front


Tall Tales:
transition times to EVs for infiniti
 

mikeavelli

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Probably:
I assume we should add the launch of the Next generation people mover QX60
Finacial tightening on the lease front


Tall Tales:
transition times to EVs for infiniti
They delayed the Q50 coupe version for whatever reason before COVID-19. That’s coming too.
 

Joaquin Ruhi

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We should know more May 28 when parent Nissan will announce its 3-year plan going forward... (T)hey say that the Infiniti brand will be "revitalized" without further explaining what that means. We'll see...
And here's the not very encouraging answer:

June 01, 2020
Nissan plots an Infiniti reboot to cap revival
HANS GREIMEL - Automotive News

TOKYO — Not long ago, the Infiniti premium brand aspired to move upmarket in the glow of Mercedes-Benz through a then-celebrated tie-up between Nissan Motor Co. and Daimler.

But the Japanese automaker, now wallowing in red ink and with Infiniti still groping for traction, is making an overhaul of the brand a centerpiece of its drastic new U.S. revival plan.

Under the strategy, Infiniti will no longer be a mini-Mercedes. It will be "Nissan-plus."

COO Ashwani Gupta outlined the Infiniti revamp last week as Nissan unveiled a revised four-year midterm plan.

Nissan's wider restructuring road map cuts billions in costs, slashes production capacity and trims the lineup to reemerge as a smaller, more profitable company. But part of that will mean high-end Infiniti will share platforms, powertrains and assembly plants with the mass-market Nissan brand in a move to boost product development efficiencies by as much as half.

Under the shuffle, Infiniti's trademark rear- wheel-drive coupe and sedans — epitomized by the Q50, Q60 and Q70 — may eventually die off. In their place would come a Nissan platform, possibly pulled from the Altima or Maxima sedans, that accommodates the company's e-Power hybrid setup.

Infiniti, which saw global sales stagnate and then fall over the past four years, will focus mostly on the U.S. and China and get its own high-performance variant of e-Power to set it apart from rivals.

"We will bring back Infiniti as Nissan-plus, in terms of product and technology," Gupta told Automotive News in discussing Nissan's larger restructuring. The efficiencies brought by piggybacking Infiniti on top of Nissan are envisioned as powering a rapid rollout of new models.

The first Infiniti vehicles under the new approach should debut by 2023.

"Infiniti will be great again," Gupta pledged.

Correcting course

In many ways, Infiniti's woes are emblematic of the wider problems Nissan is trying to fix. For years, under the direction of former Chairman Carlos Ghosn, Nissan pursued a rapid worldwide expansion, pushing into emerging markets, moving higher into luxury territory, reviving the entry-level Datsun brand name and rolling out new commercial vehicles. In short, Ghosn's Nissan Motor Co. was trying to do everything, everywhere.

Last week, in announcing Nissan's worst net loss since Ghosn's first year at the company in 1999, CEO Makoto Uchida said a drastic restructuring is needed to set the company back on a profit path after years of expanding too fast into too many markets in the pursuit of lofty sales volumes."To continue our business and generate a profit under these conditions has been extremely difficult," Uchida said, adding that executives would take various compensation cuts in light of the losses. "For Nissan to overcome this situation, we must admit our mistakes and correct course."

Ghosn had wanted Infiniti to account for 10 percent of the world's luxury market and rack up annual sales of 500,000 vehicles. Instead, Infiniti's global volume peaked at 249,000 vehicles in 2018, before dropping 24 percent to 188,994 last year.

Global sales shortfalls left Nissan Motor overstretched and strapped for resources to renew the lineups. In the end, both the Nissan and Infiniti brands were often left flogging outdated vehicles with outdated technology.

As part of Ghosn's grand vision to establish a global megamanufacturer, he brought Daimler into the Renault-Nissan orbit through a 2010 deal with then-Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche. Daimler took 3.1 percent stakes in Nissan and Renault. The two alliance companies took 1.55 percent stakes each in their new German partner.

The partnership was more casual than the linkup between Nissan and Renault. But through platform-sharing and manufacturing deals, Daimler would become a key supplier of Infiniti's portfolio.

As part of the deal, Daimler and Nissan jointly built a $1.4 billion plant in Mexico with capacity for 300,000 vehicles a year for Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti. In the end, the project only exacerbated Nissan's overcapacity problems. Last year, the shared plant in Aguascalientes churned out just 30,294 Infiniti QX50 crossovers.

Nissan still makes 2.0-liter turbocharged engines for both Infiniti and Mercedes at a factory in Decherd, Tenn., based on Mercedes engine architecture. But the slow-selling Infiniti Q30 hatchback and QX30 compact crossover, based on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class platform, were unceremoniously dumped in 2019 after only four years.

Today, Infiniti vehicles are made at six facilities around the world — two in Japan, two in China, the Mexico plant and Nissan's Smyrna, Tenn., factory, which makes the QX60 crossover. This is for a global lineup of only six main nameplates that generate worldwide volume of less than 200,000.

Under Nissan's midterm plan, called Nissan Next, the No. 2 Japanese automaker wants to cut about $2.78 billion in fixed costs. It also proposes to cut its global production capacity from 7.2 million to 5.4 million vehicles.

The reconfiguration will boost the company's factory utilization to 80 percent, from around 70 percent today. Nissan also will trim the number of nameplates 20 percent to shrink the global lineup to fewer than 55 models from 69. It will focus on a smaller number of more profitable core models and roll them out more quickly to bring the average portfolio age below 4 years.

The restructuring comes on the heels of a 30 percent tumble in Nissan Group's U.S. sales through March in an overall market that was down 12 percent. The Nissan brand fell 30 percent to 232,048 vehicles, while Infiniti slid 26 percent to 25,558.

In May, Infiniti's recently appointed global chairman, Mike Colleran, was re-tasked after less than two months to take over Nissan Division sales for the U.S. Succeeding him as Infiniti chairman, effective this week, is Peyman Kargar, a former Renault executive.

U.S. goals
Gupta, as the prime architect of the turnaround, said the U.S. strategy hinges on improved dealer relations and refreshed product.

"There is a fine line between quantity of sales and quality of sales," Gupta said. "Last year, we really choked the dealers. But now we have restarted. We have great product and great dealers and now are connecting both with a sustainable, transparent business scheme."

But Infiniti's repositioning is a throwback to the mid-2000s when its lineup included reworked Nissans loaded with upmarket flourishes. The automaker later dropped that strategy in favor of creating unique Infiniti products.

However, the new plan is also analogous to the strategy of Infiniti's closest competitor — Honda Motor Co.'s Acura brand, which scores niche success in the U.S. by rolling out sibling nameplates of the mass-market Honda brand that have a unique design and more premium features.
But reviving Infiniti, especially as an upmarket Nissan, won't be easy because of its tiny presence and drooping brand image, said Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader.

"The brand is kind of damaged right now because the sales are dreadful," Krebs said. "How do you maintain a dealer base with that? They have a tough road ahead to pull this off."

Last year, Infiniti's sales in the U.S. fell 21 percent in an overall market down just 1.2 percent.

Infiniti's rework is a repudiation of the upmarket gambit to share engineering with Mercedes-Benz.

That strategy, which delivered the short-lived Q30 and QX30, fizzled because the price-sensitive Infiniti brand couldn't absorb the higher cost structure of the Daimler-designed models.

The partnership was largely sustained by the personal rapport of the men leading both companies, Ghosn at the Renault-Nissan alliance and Zetsche at Daimler. But both of those executives are gone from the industry scene, and new projects have been mostly dormant.

Last week, Jean-Dominique Senard, Ghosn's successor as Renault chairman and alliance figurehead, hinted that deals with Daimler are far from dead.

"In terms of the atmosphere of this alliance, it is strong, and it's getting stronger. And I deeply hope that we will be able to give some news about this alliance in the coming weeks," Senard said of Daimler. "It's a little early, but in the coming weeks. And it's a very, very positive move."

https://www.autonews.com/automakers-suppliers/nissan-plots-infiniti-reboot-cap-revival?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
 

ssun30

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It's hard, but focusing on hybrids and EVs is the only way out. Unfortunately that path is also very expensive so I don't know how they could secure the funds to support a heavily electrified lineup.
 

Levi

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Why do I have the feeling Goshn is not such a great CEO as claimed to be?

How was it possible to so badly kill the FX/QX70, which was the most successful Infiniti?
 

mikeavelli

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Well they are done. Had a handful of so so years at best.

Crazy to think they were going to go ahead with an EV strategy years ago.
 

Joaquin Ruhi

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In May, Infiniti's recently appointed global chairman, Mike Colleran, was re-tasked after less than two months to take over Nissan Division sales for the U.S. Succeeding him as Infiniti chairman, effective this week, is Peyman Kargar, a former Renault executive.
And here's more on Mr. Kargar and Infiniti's future:

June 14, 2020
New boss has his eyes on premium prize at Infiniti
HANS GREIMEL - Automotive News

YOKOHAMA, Japan — The Infiniti premium marque has seen four global brand chiefs in the last year and a half. The latest boss, now just two weeks into the job, is promising yet more change.

But Peyman Kargar, who started June 1, says it will be change for the better.

His marching orders are to make Nissan Motor Co.'s top-shelf offering a profitable premium brand for the long haul. For the time being, that means executing the product rollout plan he inherited from his predecessors. But Kargar says he will also take six months to review the operation from the ground up, with the intent of fine- tuning the strategy in a new business plan.

"The mission is very clear, to make Infiniti a sustainable premium brand of the company," Kargar, 53, told Automotive News last week in his first interview since taking the helm. That means robust customer satisfaction, dealer coverage and profitability.

"Premium brands should bring more money to the company. So that's the objective. We are not at the level we want to be."

Kargar, a Renault veteran who joined alliance partner Nissan in 2017, says the overhaul will involve fresh product on a shared platform driven by new powertrains. The Infiniti design language will get a complete revamp, and Infiniti will be the leadoff brand for introducing technology.

The soft-spoken Frenchman said future Infiniti models will be based on a "company" platform for large vehicles that will be shared with Nissan vehicles. The new platform will support gasoline, full-electric and hybrid powertrains for Infiniti. The hybrid powertrain will come in the form of a new, high-power version of Nissan's e-Power setup that will differentiate Infiniti from other premium brands.

The first Infiniti e-Power offering will arrive by around 2023, Kargar said.

Nissan Motor Co. COO Ashwani Gupta described that shared-platform strategy as "Nissan-plus."

But Kargar said the approach won't dilute Infiniti's premium focus. Commonization, he said, is an absolute must in an age of spiraling investment in electrification, autonomous driving and connectivity. The strategy will save development time and allow Infiniti to plow savings back into enhancing the brand.

"The objective is to use these assets of the company, and then to reinject the money we are saving into the luxury experience and ingredients of Infiniti," Kargar said. "We will put more money into Infiniti's future, but this money will come from the savings in globalized platforms."

New product
Stepped-up investment will be channeled into better design, upmarket interiors and better infotainment systems. Infiniti will become the front-runner for introducing new technologies, following criticism that the premium brand sometimes lagged mass-market Nissan in getting goodies such as Apple CarPlay or Nissan's ProPilot driver-assist system.

What will happen to Infiniti's aging rear-wheel-drive platforms, which underpin the Q50 and Q70 sedans as well as the Q60 coupe, is a work in progress, Kargar said. A top concern is killing vehicles too early when there is not a next generation in the pipeline to promptly replace them.

"With the plan, we will really have a young lineup," Kargar said. "I'm trying to make sure we don't go for a very young lineup and then, afterward, we suffer again with more aging models."

Even as Nissan pares back the Nissan brand and Datsun emerging-market brand under its latest midterm plan, Infiniti remains untouched as the upmarket standard-bearer.

"I saw the products — four years of coming products," Kargar said of the Infiniti pipeline. "They are absolutely great; the technology we are going to put in them is absolutely great. And it's really a luxury experience. We're not going to downsize the brand."

Kargar, previously Nissan's regional chairman in charge of Africa, the Middle East and India, said he dialed U.S. dealers last week to gather their input. Their top demand, he said, was more product and fresher product for Infiniti's No. 1 market.

Infiniti will begin to deliver that this year with the introduction of the QX55 coupe-styled crossover. Then, the real turning point comes in 2021 with the launch of a redesigned QX60 midsize crossover and its Nissan brand stablemate, the Pathfinder. The vehicles share the same underpinnings, and their introductions will be the first test of whether the "Nissan-plus" strategy can commonize more components while imbuing each brand with its own distinct identity.

Leadership issues
The influx of new models should also help Infiniti gradually dial back incentives, Kargar noted.

U.S. spiffs for Infiniti soared 20 percent to an average of $8,561 per vehicle in the January-March quarter, according to data from Motor Intelligence. That compared with an industry average increase of 10 percent to $3,909. Infiniti's outlays exceeded those of virtually every other premium player, even as its U.S. sales slid 26 percent to 25,558 vehicles in the quarter.

Jump-starting Infiniti is a key part of the revised midterm business plan unveiled in late May by Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida. The road map runs through the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024.

Infiniti's global volume peaked at 249,000 vehicles in 2018, before dropping 24 percent to 188,994 last year. Kargar said sales will fall again in 2020 because the brand has pulled out of Europe and because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. He declined to give a sales target.

A steady hand on the wheel might help. Infiniti has cycled through chairmen since Roland Krüger left in January 2019 to lead Dyson's now defunct electric car program. Christian Meunier took over, but only for a few months. He left in May 2019 to become global president of Fiat Chrysler's Jeep brand. Nissan Chief Quality Officer Christian Vandenhende filled in until Mike Colleran was appointed Infiniti chairman from April 1 this year, but he has since been called back to lead Nissan Division sales for the U.S. Two months later, Kargar is now on top.

He is fluent in French, English and Farsi, and he is a student of Spanish, Japanese and Arabic. As head of Nissan's incredibly diverse African, Middle East and South Asian operations, Kargar, an engineer by training, managed everything from marketing and sales to vehicle production and development.

He expects to leverage that holistic perspective in rebooting Infiniti.

"You need to look at all the aspects of the business," he said. "For example, having a fresh lineup is not just investing in some models. It's understanding, years ahead, what the markets are asking, what the dealers are asking, what your brand is, and what you want to put into it."

https://www.autonews.com/executives/new-boss-has-his-eyes-premium-prize-infiniti?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
 

Gecko

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I will believe it when I see it. I want to see Infiniti and Acura succeed because stronger Japanese luxury brands also benefits Lexus... and speaking of Lexus, their complacency needs to be challenged. But Infiniti has had a really, really rough decade and getting out of that is going to take a lot of work and we've heard all of the above a few times before.
 

CRSKTN

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I will believe it when I see it. I want to see Infiniti and Acura succeed because stronger Japanese luxury brands also benefits Lexus... and speaking of Lexus, their complacency needs to be challenged. But Infiniti has had a really, really rough decade and getting out of that is going to take a lot of work and we've heard all of the above a few times before.
I'm still shocked at how compelling the new Acura TLX is. Certainly has a long way to go still, but I'm shocked as I thought Infiniti would've been the first of the two to start making real progress on becoming their own brand.
 

Ian Schmidt

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I actually expected Acura to have the better chance of recovering, simply because Honda's in better shape than Nissan right now. If both of them can pull off some compelling cars, it's all to the good.
 

mikeavelli

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Its crazy to think their best sales year was just two years ago. Lets be honest though, people buy the brand based on a cheaper price or lease. The article states the industry is around $3900 for incentives and they are at $8500! And they sell a cheaper product.

We know where this leads back to FWD based cars but is that a bad thing? Lexus money maker is the ES. Infiniti is mostly known for SUVs and that is what sells. I just hope they do not fold, we need variety and not the same brands for everything.
 
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