By on November 4, 2019

Celebrating 30 years of existence, Infiniti announced it was time for a sea change this week. While sales have improved since the recession, last year saw a modest decline in volume that carried over into 2019 in a big way. Year to date, Nissan volume is down 6 percent, with Infiniti posting a 17.1-percent loss — we discussed this earlier in the day, if you’re interested.

Most of this saga is occuring in the United States, where Infiniti sources the bulk of its sales. China and Europe are footnotes for the manufacturer. Yet Infiniti would very much like to improve its global appeal, so it’s banking on EV adoption as being the next global consumer craze.

Considering how many countries are embracing stringent emission goals, Nissan’s premium arm could be making a wise choice. However, the U.S. hasn’t been quite so eager to push (or embrace) automotive electrification — meaning Infiniti could be endangering the one market that’s keeping it afloat. Unfortunately, the status quo doesn’t seem to be working, either — encouraging the automaker to adopt alternative powertrains and design cues in the coming years. 

Visually, the brand points to its Q Inspiration concepts as it pivots towards a new “Powerful Serenity” design language. While named design languages are typical for the industry, Japanese automakers like to tie things to tradition. Infiniti is no different, claiming its new design language is directly inspired by the timeless art of origami — something to do with the folded bodywork.

In truth, Q Inspiration vehicles actually look less folded than most automotive products currently coming out of Japan. The theme seems to revolve more around furnishing muscular looking vehicles with thin headlamps, one long taillight, and recessed “grilles” that redirect air around the body for aerodynamic efficiency. Interiors are said to be minimalist and more spacious.

While not unpleasant to look at, one worries the look will grow stale quickly. Most of Infiniti’s future products will be crossovers, and these design cues are things we’re starting to see crop up everywhere. Nixing the traditional grille homogenizes the exterior appearance of a vehicle and already seems to be a trend for higher-riding EVs. Plenty of electric models have already opted to put plastic where the grille would be; CAD renderings of a new Ford EV “inspired” by the Mustang sports the recessed grille outline as well.

We think you’ll be seeing a lot of it.

As for powertrains, Infiniti says it plans on embracing electrification with battery-only vehicles and upgraded e-Power (hybrid) systems doing the rest. Originally placed inside smaller Nissan vehicles, the system uses an internal combustion engine as a generator to charge the vehicle’s battery, rather than provide direct propulsion. From there, the energy is sent to electric motors at each axle.

While technically a hybrid, Infiniti has said it isn’t certain it wants to use the term — as e-Power doesn’t function like a typical hybrid, even though it’s still dependent on gasoline. It also doesn’t want to use the e-Power name; the moniker belongs to Nissan and Infiniti plans on using upsized versions of it, mated to larger battery packs. While it won’t do anything to improve range (a non-issue, since you can just fill it with gas), it will provide more power to the electric motors driving the car.

“As we look ahead to the future, we will capitalize on a range of exciting opportunities to re-establish the Infiniti brand’s reputation for innovation and challenging convention in the premium car segment,” said Infiniti Vice Chairman, Mike Colleran.

“We will deliver thrilling electric and electrified powertrains, performance-enhancing driver assist technologies, and a range of vehicle designs unlike anything else on the road. For 30 years, the Infiniti logo has reflected our desire to look to the road ahead. While we take a brief look back at what we have achieved to-date, we are just as excited as ever about the opportunities that lie ahead for Infiniti.”

The fervor of the brand’s push into electrification remains up for debate. Even though the announcement makes it seem as though the brand intends on jumping head-first into EVs, there’s a distinct lack of specificity in its press materials. Still, the brand sounds mighty eager, and we know it intends to launch a production sedan based on the Q Inspiration Concept in 2021. That’s to be followed by an all-electric SUV based on the QX Inspiration Concept the following year.

[Images: Infiniti]

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23 Comments on “Infiniti Explains Brand’s Future Product Strategy, Design Language...”

  • avatar

    Old Man: I’m not [dead].
    Dead Collector: He isn’t.
    Guy: Well, he will be soon, he’s very ill.
    Old Man: I’m getting better.
    Guy: No you’re not you’ll be stone dead in a moment.

  • avatar

    “ Yet Infiniti would very much like to improve its global appeal, so it’s banking on EV adoption as being the next global consumer craze.“

    So their banking on not existing in 5 years?

  • avatar

    The top two pics look like somebody slammed into the vehicles with the sharp end of a meat mallet. Is that what people mean when they say it’s pre-dented?

  • avatar

    Infiniti Death Watch?

    You might as well throw Acura in there too – and maybe the luxury market is just too crowded these days. With the exception of Tesla and Lexus, putting a dent into the Big-3 Germans companies is hard to do. You can’t just duplicate them but have to offer something else. Tesla is EV while Lexus gets the reliability label.

    Well at least Infiniti isn’t alone – Jaguar also comes to mind plus the piddling number of Genesis cars that are sold; plus the dumpster fire that is Cadillac.

  • avatar

    Pleas, don’t explain THIS to me. I don’t want to hear. Hello, Genesis

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Pity, the packaging of EV’s could allow for a low hoodline that still meets all of those pedestrian impact standards. But no, let’s just make EV’s that look like we forgot to put the grill on. Stupid.

    • 0 avatar

      Biggest advantage to EVs is the ability to style cars outside of the traditional box… yet even Tesla is stuck with the same annoying design flaws as every other manufacturer.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        Not sure I agree.

        Non-traditional styling sometimes gives us cars that look like science projects (e.g. Aztek, Leaf, Cube, XT6) – interesting novelties that don’t sell very well. Infiniti’s primary need is to sell cars, not win design awards.

        • 0 avatar

          I didn’t mean funky designs, I meant ridiculous hood, trunk heights, ridiculous roof sloping in front and rear, under utilized spacing inside and outside. You don’t need to make it into a Cube or a Model 3 to make it different.

        • 0 avatar
          Art Vandelay

          I’m not certain lower body lines and larger windows wouldn’t sell more cars. And the designs pictured are pretty far from traditional unless you live somewhere that dented cars are the norm.

  • avatar

    Design Language. Large dents?

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    “Infiniti says it plans on embracing electrification with battery-only vehicles and upgraded e-Power (hybrid) systems doing the rest. Originally placed inside smaller Nissan vehicles, the system uses an internal combustion engine as a generator to charge the vehicle’s battery, rather than provide direct propulsion”

    Well, that’ll fail. The improved range and simplicity of BEVs make such complicated technology obsolete today. The Volt and ELR used this approach 2011-8, only to be replaced by the Bolt. BMW’s i3 REX uses this approach, and it’s anemic. It makes absolutely no sense for Infiniti to do this.

  • avatar
    Peter Gazis

    Question: What do you do when sales are falling, and profits are non-existent?
    Answer: Put all your resources into low volume unprofitable models.

    • 0 avatar

      Infiniti is an also-ran in the near-lux category, but even if it wasn’t, it would still be low volume. Somebody thinks a radical new “styling language” will punch up the sales volume, and th near-lux transaction price will do the rest.

      Given the need for a one-style-fits-all global product and the economics of assembly, all they can do is mess with the front and rear clips and put dents in the side. That was probably the cheapest route open to them.

      The last thing they’ll do is what Ford did to turn the Taurus into a FWD Lincoln: lengthen the wheelbase, enlarge the trunk, give it a formal roofline with opera windows, and put a crome grille in front of the radiator. Those are traditional styling cues, and on a glorified Taurus, they worked.

      Amazingly, when Ford used an updated chassis that was miles better than the Taurus based model, but took away the classic styling elements, it didn’t sell. The old 1930s coach styling still sells.

  • avatar

    Cadillac also said it will be all electric brand. And Mercedes. And Audi. And Porsche. And BMW. Every brand wants to be Tesla killer or be beaten. You can always dream no one can take it away from you, only death.

  • avatar

    General generic statement (not limited to Infiniti, but refer to first picture as an example):

    With the beltline as high as it is now, we’ve got to do *something* to break up that huge visual slab – so we see multiple character lines, multiple horizontal breaks/steps, blacked-out sills (aka “rocker panels”), or in this case, folds and creases.

    [Meanwhile the greenhouse continues to shrink and the kid in back (if there is a kid in back) will never have a hope of seeing the outside world pass by.]

  • avatar

    Last nail in their coffin?

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