Infiniti Explains Brand's Future Product Strategy, Design Language
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.
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