Bartsch: Infiniti On Track Despite Key Departures

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

Though the departures of Johan de Nysschen and Andy Palmer from Infiniti and Nissan respectively may be setbacks in the premium brand’s overall trek toward becoming a proper player in the luxury game, Infiniti Americas VP Michael Bartsch believes the brand will stay the course in the end.

According to Ward’s Auto, Bartsch says Infiniti’s roadmap, as designed by de Nysschen and endorsed by both Palmer and Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, is “locked in.” Further, the plan, and by extension, Infiniti, is greater than the people behind it, with a “collective stewardship of the mission and the vision” in place.

The plan calls for Infiniti to go up against the likes of BMW, Mercedes and Audi by expanding its offerings over the next few years, meeting them in 85 percent to 86 percent of the segments where the German brands currently do battle:

The reality of it is the German brands have fractured the market more than we’ve ever seen. The challenge for Infiniti at the moment is not whether we can build cars for the segment. I think our record shows very clearly we can. It’s not what we currently have, the challenge is what we don’t have. To be an effective player in (the luxury sector), you have to have range. You have to have the bandwidth.

The expansion will begin when the Q30 arrives in showrooms throughout 2015, and will feature redesigns of current vehicles, as well as possibilities for a flagship and a sports car down the line.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Spartan Spartan on Sep 03, 2014

    "I think our record shows very clearly we can. It’s not what we currently have, the challenge is what we don’t have." It's not that Infiniti doesn't have the product depth, even though they don't. I don't think they need depth of product. They need brand recognition. They were building it with the Infiniti G and should have kept that momentum going because after two generations, they were gaining traction. Instead, they threw years of brand recognition by ditching their established nameplates for "Q". There's a reason everyone is jumping ship at Infiniti, they probably don't have any faith in their plan. I'm not speaking as an enthusiast that hasn't bought their products. I was the owner of a 2010 G37S 6MT (in my avatar) for a few years, a car that I bought brand new. A car that I purchased over the BMW 335i because I thought it was truly a better product for a better price. Infiniti was on a roll and all they had to do was improve on what they had and stay competitive. I would have accepted an Infiniti G40 or G50, even if it didn't have a 4 or 5 liter engine. This Q business is just bad. They couldn't have picked a dumber time to pull this move because the luxury market has been doing great since the great recession has come and gone. What kills me about Infiniti is that they threw all of their brand equity out the window for the letter Q. At least Cadillac got the memo and didn't kill the Escalade for some alphabet soup name. There's a reason we still have the Cadillac Escalade and not a Cadillac E-x-x.

    • Cargogh Cargogh on Sep 03, 2014

      Times were simpler with Legend and Integra. I can keep up with Cadillac's LETTERS now, but Infiniti and Lincoln have become too frustrating to care.

  • Prado Prado on Sep 03, 2014

    To be competitive, Infiniti needs a new range of engines for their cars ASAP. The VQ is a gas guzzling dinosaur.

    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Sep 03, 2014

      I think it's helped quite a bit by the current 7-speed transmissions. But I have to agree, in general the VQ engines use quite a bit of fuel. That being said, they do have plenty of power! But you're using lots of fuel even when you aren't using much of the power. I think Infiniti also has a weight management issue. Their cars seem to be heavier than the cars they compete with.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Sep 03, 2014

    I keep thinking about this - and what was Infiniti planning on GAINING by using the Q letter? It's not as though they had so many letters before (like Mercedes) where it was too hard for people to keep with it. Like the man was stating here, they don't HAVE a ton of models - keeping the same letters wouldn't have been a burden. And arguably, they chose their LEAST well-known and liked letter to use. The last real Q was sold here 8 years ago, and very few people bought one. If anything I think they should have used M## for all sedans and QX## for all SUV's.

    • GiddyHitch GiddyHitch on Sep 05, 2014

      de Nysschen explained the reasoning pretty clearly in an interview at some point - basically their current naming scheme was confusing potential customers and they had run out of letters with which to expand their model range (due to trademarks from other automakers). Therefore, the consolidated on Q for cars and QX for "trucks". Obviously they have the rights to G and M, but not GX and MX. Likewise EX and FX, but not E and F, and I guess they wanted symmetry between the vehicle groups. Unfortunately, that left them with the worst possible letter for their alphanumerics.