By on March 16, 2015

Infiniti-Q50-drivingInfiniti USA reported a 20% year-over-year February 2015 sales improvement, a gain of nearly 2000 sales during a period which saw Cadillac, Buick, Jaguar, and Lincoln sales decrease. Among premium brands, only Land Rover (up 23%), and Lexus (up 22%) posted greater February gains than Infiniti.

In fact, Infiniti’s February improvement was the second consecutive for Nissan’s upmarket brand – Infiniti sales rose 7% in the first month of 2015 – a meaningful statistic given the way 2014 ended. Second-half sales last year slid 10%.

Moreover, it marked the best February ever for the brand: 27% better than February 2013, 26% better than February 2012, 28% better than February 2011, 66% better than February 2010.

Speaking of February 2012, that was the last time Infiniti outsold Audi in America, at least until last month. On an annual basis, Infiniti was typically the greater generator of U.S. sales volume until 2011. But while Infiniti sales fell 14% between 2005 and 2014 (the latter being just the fifth-best year of the last decade for Infiniti USA), Audi volume more than doubled during the same period. The chart below displays the gradual Infiniti market share decline and the Audi market share upswing.

Infiniti Audi USA market share sales chartNevertheless, February was an especially strong month for Infiniti, a brand which still operates with a relatively small lineup. Setting aside the forgotten QX50 (only 177 February sales), mostly ignored Q60, Q70, and QX70 (formerly the G coupe, M sedan. and FX crossover), reveals 85% of Infiniti’s February sales were collected by just two sedans and two utility vehicles.

By way of comparison only, 68% Audi USA’s February sales volume was produced by its two top cars and two top utility vehicles. In other words, while many luxury brands have more than a handful of products that sell well, Infiniti currently produces the overwhelming majority of its sales with a small portfolio: the Infiniti G sedan-turned-Q40, the Q40’s Q50 successor, the Pathfinder-based QX60, and the Navigator-fighting QX80.

And in their respective classes, those vehicles aren’t unpopular. Q50 volume is up 6% this year to 6615 units, just behind the Lexus IS (which trails the BMW 3-Series/4-Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class) but ahead of the Acura TLX; well ahead of the Cadillac ATS and Audi A4.

The Q40 is tasked with tangling a newer crop of entry-level contenders. With 2672 sales so far this year, it’s well back of the Mercedes-Benz CLA and Audi A3 (5097 and 4662 sales, respectively, year-to-date) but it’s outselling cars like the Volvo S60, Lexus CT, and Acura ILX.

2013 Infiniti JX35, Exterior, side, Picture Courtesy of InfinitiThe QX80 doesn’t sell like the Escalade or Mercedes-Benz GL, but with 2831 year-to-date sales, it’s more than 1000 units ahead of the Lincoln Navigator, sales of which doubled in early 2015. The QX60 sells less than half as often as the all-conquering Lexus RX and trails the Acura MDX by 3372 sales heading into March, but it’s only 898 sales back of Mercedes-Benz’s M-Class and well ahead of lower-tier players like the Range Rover Sport, Lincoln MKX, Audi Q7, Land Rover LR4, and Volkswagen Touareg.

Put it this way: Infiniti is capable of building vehicles people want. But they need to build more of them if the brand is going to be a major player in the United States. Indeed, they need to build more of them if Infiniti is going to be what Infiniti once was. A rival for the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, and Audi A6 that actually generated any consumer attention would be a big help.

But the Mercedes-Benz GLA-related QX30 is more likely the vehicle that will provide Infiniti’s next big push. Don’t think for a minute that being late to the compact luxury crossover party will cause undue harm, as it’s become obvious that the Mercedes-Benz GLA and Audi Q3 are clearly capable of stealing sales from the established BMW X1. Perhaps the QX30 can do the same.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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29 Comments on “Is Infiniti Getting Back To Normal? Two Whole Consecutive Months Of YOY U.S. Sales Growth...”


  • avatar
    pdl2dmtl

    Yeah, well. Johan de Nysschen is gone so that must be good karma for them.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    “…the established X1.”

    I have to question whether the X1 has ever really been established, other than it being older than other vehicles. I very rarely see them around here in SW Ohio. I think I’ve seen 3 total. So are they selling well? Who’s buyin?

  • avatar
    NotFast

    How much are they making (or losing) on each sale? Last time I checked, the incentives were crazy high.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I wonder why the Q70 doesn’t sell. Probably the same reason the XF doesn’t sell (which also eludes me). All the sedans in the segment are fast, overwrought with technology, and painfully bland to look at, so it must just come down to brand. I would probably go for the Benz E400 in this segment, but I don’t have any logical reason why.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Well the Q70 isn’t bland these days, it’s very… fish-like. I bet that puts some off. It nearly looks like a hatchback. Also, I think nobody thinks of it as a choice.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Infiniti and Nissan are both, “oh ya,” brands for me.

    I’m looking for XYZ whether that be a minivan (oh that’s right – Nissan makes the Quest), or a C-segment car (that’s right Nissan still makes the Sentra), or in the near-luxury segment (that’s right Infiniti has the G, Q, GQ, 50, 37, x, what?).

    It’s like Mercedes for me in the luxury class. Oh you’ve got the A4, and the 3-series, and the wannabe ATS, and then there is the….the….well I guess, oh wait ya the C-series.

    When I think of their entire product line up the only thing they build that are top of mind to me is the Versa, Altima, and Frontier. Sure I can rattle of the 370Z, Titan, and Maxima – but I see these largely as irrelevant in their respective classes.

    The now dead Cube comes to mind because of the horrors of what it was, and the God awful rental Cube a former DGF had.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Infinitis are ugly, expensive Nissans.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Something else I just thought of…. what is “normal” for Infiniti? In the early years, they had the Q45 and a bunch of rebadged also-rans. In the late 90s, they had NOZZING. Aside from the G20, which itself was pretty much a glorified Sentra, they didn’t have any competitive products. The I30 was a Maxima trim. The FM platform helped establish legitimacy and steady sales volume, but aside from the G none of the FM cars really stuck. From like 2005-2008 or so the whole lineup was competitive; but once Audi/Benz/BMW changed platforms and moved to blowers the non-Gs got culo blasted and have yet to recover.

    I don’t really know what Infiniti can do to assert itself in the market place that it hasn’t already. The luxury segment and automotive market in general are competitive as hell… trying to gain ground in established markets is pretty much impossible. They are on the right path with the Q30 and I’m assuming a follow up QX30 right behind it. Maybe a Q80 4 door coupe that somehow does away with the Q70’s SUV high side sills. Beyond that I’m stumped. An S class fighter would be a complete waste of money as would a sports car and they have pretty much every other segment covered or in the works.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      “Aside from the G20, which itself was pretty much a glorified Sentra…”

      You lose credibility when you spout nonsense like this. There have been at least two or three articles on this very site showing how this is not the case. The G20 was a Primera.

      • 0 avatar
        LectroByte

        It might be technically wrong that a G20 was a Sentra in nice clothes, but it was a pretty common perception of G20 at the time. The G20 certainly did nothing to help the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        I think the G20 and Sentra did share quite a few components. I know you could get the G20’s engine in a SE-R.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          Most of the shared parts came out of the standard Nissan FWD parts bin, including the SR20DE. The Sentra and Primera/G20 were different platforms, though. The “fancy Sentra” was the Presea.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        The stubby 1986 Buick Riviera “wasn’t” a Skylark, either, but it didn’t mean that potential buyers didn’t find the cars visually too similar for comfort…and the sales reflected it.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      Q30… Q30? I keep trying to think what that is. Does it fit under the Q40/G37? Infiniti has some problems, first being that it’s not worth the effort for customers to keep the names straight and learn about the products.

      • 0 avatar
        Gardiner Westbound

        +1

        Notwithstanding we are pleased with our Infiniti, and would look at buying another, we can’t figure out which is which without a program.

  • avatar
    TOTitan

    I have owned three Q45’s, 91, 95, and 03. The 95 and 03 all ran well over 200K before we sold them. The 3 was too softly sprung but had great power and never broke. I sold it because I couldn’t resist the allure of the BMW 335d. I know it wont be as reliable, but what a ride it is……425 lb ft @ 1700 and 30 mpg @ 100 mph.

  • avatar
    pb35

    I owned a G35x for 8 years, purchased new. It was ok, reliability was worse than I expected from a Nissan product (or any Japanese marque). That, combined with a feeling that my local Infiniti store service dept was trying to fleece me every time I walked in, made me shop for a different brand when it was time to replace it.

    I am finally warming up to the Q50, though. Not enough to purchase one, mind you. I’m also one of the few people that like the QX80 too. Their new naming convention drives me batty, however. I don’t even know what they’re called anymore and it’s annoying to have to look them up.

    • 0 avatar
      Marko

      I have a strange soft spot for the QX56…err, QX80 as well. It’s so outrageous I love it. On the other hand, I honestly cannot visualize what the former M looks like except for the grille…or what it’s called now. (Answer: Q70.)

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It looks like my avatar photo, ha.

        The QX56 had unfortunate reliability I believe. On the early ones (before 08ish), the interior has not aged well either. The interior on the current one is VERY luxurious (as it should be at this price range). Such soft leather.

  • avatar

    Sometimes when I am driving, I will think “Oh, the new Mazda 6 looks nicer and better proportioned than I remember”. Then I will look closer and see it is an Infiniti.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I saw an older Infiniti the other day, and had to Google it because I had no idea they were still in business. If they sell at all around here, *I’ve* never seen one.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      IF you’re that unaware, that you don’t know which brands still exist and which don’t, time to do some research.

      News flash: Pontiac and Plymouth are both gone! OMG!

  • avatar
    bd2

    This semi-insurgence for Infiniti (problem when so many still spell it “Infinity”) is largely due to decison-makers realizing that it is a losing proposition to head to head with BMW and MB in RWD models (notwithstanding the success of the G/Q50 which was largely based on its pricing/lease deals).

    Infiniti was meant to be the “BMW” to Lexus’ more MB-like approach, hence sportier RWD CUV offerings like the FX/QX70.

    But the problem is that RWD CUVs are more expensive, and most buyers (“soccer-moms”) aren’t looking for sporty CUVs (and if they are, they’d just buy a Porsche CUV) and Infiniti exacerbated the problem with its 2 RWD CUVs being short on cargo room.

    Finally wizened up and brought forth the cheaper, larger FWD JX/QX60 – which while not at MDX levels (about half), is still far better than what Infiniti had been doing with its RWD models save the G/Q50 (don’t consider the current RX a direct competitor, but the larger next gen RX will be).

    Infiniti’s main driver of growth will be the same as for Acura and Lexus – FWD-based crossovers.

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