By on June 2, 2020

You’ll have to both forgive us and brace yourself at the same time, as this could get controversial. We’re about to delve into a serious problem that goes back quite a while. One that has its roots in many factors — some of them organic, others the result of those in power making bad decisions.

It’s something many of you probably ignored, pushed to the back of your mind as your attention turned instead to the mundane day-to-day goings-ons of your own life, not wanting to concern yourself with something you don’t believe involves you, and yet it’s something we can’t ignore anymore.

We’d caution both sides of this debate not to lash out at each other, and instead, listen, learn and understand.

Ready? Okay, here goes…

We need to talk about Infiniti.

Yes, we’ve talked about this failing brand before — how could we not, given the steep decline the premium marque has seen over the past couple of years? While Acura has had some success in remaking itself (it still faces the problem of fielding too few utility vehicles) and Lexus remains the premium juggernaut it always was, Infiniti can’t seem to get its act together. Just when it starts building things people like, it somehow ages out of that phase and embarks on an experimental concept album that goes over like a lead balloon.

It was a tweet from a reader that prompted this QOTD. In it, Jay suggested parent corp Nissan should, in his words, “Kill it and move on.”

He might not be alone in thinking that…

Indeed, under Nissan’s wet blanket of a four-year plan, Infiniti stands to become both “Nissan-plus” and “great again,” according to its parent automaker’s COO. Can a premium brand that once boasted street and country club cred with its G35 and Q45 (not at the same time, mind you) be these two things at the same time? Many would reply with a firm “no.” Others still would replay with a harsher “HELL no.”

Nissan is a value brand. Value is not necessarily a pejorative either in the mainstream or the premium space, but the maker of the Versa and Sentra and Kicks does not lend itself to easy association with high-end product the way Honda and Toyota does.

Infiniti’s stable is shrinking along with its sales. Its names are confusing and mean nothing to most consumers. The most recent designs to come from the brand are an improvement on what came before, but are neither memorable nor desirable enough.

At least its sedans and coupes are rear-drive and unique to the brand… only now, as part of becoming Nissan-plus, we hear Infiniti will borrow some front-drive Nissan architecture for a new lineup of front-drive and AWD product that won’t begin showing up for three years. Lord have mercy on this brand.

Nissan’s in triage mode, cutting costs and streamlining its business in order to survive. As part of this, Infiniti stands to become less distant from its parent brand, DNA-wise. If it can’t be what it once was, or even currently is, under these new conditions, is it worth keeping around? On the other hand, with a deep parts bin on hand, the brand could recoup its lowered development costs with enough volume make its existence worthwhile to Nissan. It just might not be a legit rival to the likes of Lexus and Honda. The marque’s one-time luster might be replaced with a sales-sapping stigma.

Then again, maybe Nissan can work some magic that actually stimulates consumer interest. It’s not like its Japanese rivals can’t make hay with shared architecture and powertrains.

What say you? Should Nissan throw its hands up and pull the plug, or try to make the best out of the hand it’s been dealt?

[Image: Steph Willems/TTAC, Kazick/Shutterstock]

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81 Comments on “QOTD: Give up, or Carry on for a Brighter Future?...”


  • avatar
    NormSV650

    A deathwatch of a Japanese car brand on TTAC?!

    • 0 avatar
      Pig_Iron

      Not the first . . .
      Suzuki Death Watch 1: The Prologue
      https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/07/suzuki-death-watch-1-the-prologue/

    • 0 avatar
      SSJeep

      The deathwatch is being called way too soon. Nissan doesnt have the cash or wherewithal to kill the Infiniti brand. Nissan has long term contracts with dealers that have invested millions in dedicated Infiniti showrooms and service departments. If Nissan “killed” the brand, they would be liable to all of these dealers and that would be the final nail in the Nissan coffin.

      I see Nissan doing one of two things:
      – Plodding along with Infiniti a-la Carlos Ghosn, hoping the dealers eventually give up without a fight (they wont), or
      – Get back to their roots and make Infiniti a real luxury marque again that can compete with Lexus and MB toe to toe.

  • avatar
    theflyersfan

    Nissan is too much of a basketcase to fix Infiniti right now.

    From the very beginning, Infiniti has lurched from cold to hot and cold again. When they first came out, the Q45 was stunning, but a cryptic ad campaign and people wanting the smoothness and quality of a Lexus compared to a psuedo-German Infiniti guaranteed a rough start. Then the Q45 got soft, and then mean again, but it was too late.

    The initial M30? The nice but still econo-based G20? The drop it like a hot potato J30? What do they stand for? It’s been 30 years. That’s multiple generations of mistakes, almost-beens, nice tries, and a few home runs along the way. I thought by 2003-4, with the success of the G35 and then the FX that they found the plot. But they couldn’t build upon that as Nissan, yet again, staggered under poor management.

    Nissan has WAY too many problems at the moment to have to focus on a shrinking brand that is retreating from entire markets. If they want Infiniti to be a Nissan-plus, then make them a Nissan and fix the brand. A decontented Q50 can still make a nice and affordable Maxima for example. But keeping a standalone brand that is faltering badly, and all of the expenses of keeping the sinking boat afloat is something Nissan doesn’t have right now. I really liked Infiniti, but it’s time to put it out of its misery.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      I agree, Nissan needs to concentrate on fixing Nissan as opposed to promoting a premium brand that no one is interested in

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I also agree. Apparently the mothership of Nissan has too many problems and that is effecting Infiniti. Like many semi-luxury brands Infiniti doesn’t seem to have a message or a focal point. What is Infiniti? Until they find that answer they will continue to kind of stumble like a drunk out of bar. The renaming everything to Q-something and the rebadge of little Benz CUV were clear signs they are lost.

      Shame since as I said in the other post my wife loves her Q60 (aka G37), it is a great car… well minus the tissue paper paint.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Nissan is a value brand, however if you look at cars of their past like the Z32 300z twin turbo and the gen 3/4 Maxima, people have been willing to pay more for Nissan’s. These cars sold along side Sentras and hardbody pickups.

    Something has to give here though. Infinity either needs to move upmarket which would mean an investment in bespoke engines.for the brand and updated platforms. It would be a long term investment as well since brand perceptions don’t turn on a dime. Sadly, money and time seem in short supply at Nissan. As such, question would be is the brand currently profitable and if no can it be in the short term. If the answer is no, then the brands successful products (probably big SUVs and Crossovers should be folded into Nissan. Nissan itself will need all of the resources they can muster if they really want to shake their subprime image and ween of selling Altimas to fleets and credit challenged buyers.

    Most of those Infinity crossovers share platforms with Nissan’s. Fold whatever makes them unique into a Nissan trim line. If they insist on pressing on with a new Z (I feel they should because they want to revive the “Nissanness” of the brand then let a 4 door version be the Maxima and a 4 cylinder version be the 240.

    SE-R all the small cars, and do it well. They aren’t bad on their own. And just make the rest of the line better as models cycle out.

    But yeah, infinity seems to be the odd man out here

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I don’t think that “bespoke platforms” are the key to success – look at Lexus. Their volume models are all fluffed-up Toyotas…every single one. Aside from the IS, their “bespoke” stuff – LS, LC and dead GS – has bombed.

      But I’d argue that Lexus can get away with this for a few of reasons…
      1) If you’re fluffing up mass-market cars and selling them at luxury prices, it sure as hell helps if the mass-market cars being fluffed are better than they need to be, and Toyota’s are. But Nissan’s mass-market stuff ain’t great, to put it politely.
      2) The Lexus dealer experience is consistently top-notch, and always has been. Infiniti’s isn’t.
      3) Lexus has a killer rep for value and reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        FreedMike has the nail on the head, especially with point #3.

        Too many “luxury” brands have jumped on the luxury branding bandwagon, thinking the nameplate is what gives them their value and forgetting that people who have money usually aren’t stupid with their money. They want quality and reliability.

        Complicated trinkets that break just out of warranty is not a way to earn repeat customers. Building “luxury cars” that last five years and then become so unreliable your buyer is forced to buy a new one with a trade-in whose value has crashed doesn’t sound luxurious to me. Remember when people bought a luxury car with the intent of keeping it ten years, and then trading it in with a considerable residual value on a newer, updated model?

        Sure, there was a time there where you could trade on brand name, and the newly rich could be suckered into a purchase, but you still have to back it up with a respectable product if you want repeat business. Lexus knew it, but Nissan has only dabbled in it.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        Not sure I’d describe the LC as having “bombed”. It’s a halo car; it was never there to sell in any appreciable volume. It was there to show everyone Lexus could do it, and it accomplished that. Lexus wasn’t really on my radar until the LC, which is now high up on my list of “f-you money” cars.

        • 0 avatar
          bobbysirhan

          I agree that it sells in numbers that shouldn’t constitute bombing for such an exclusive car, but Lexus made some absurdly optimistic predictions for expected sales that make it look like it bombed. I still appreciate getting to see them when I do. It’s a beautiful car with the best engine noises of this century combined with the worst marketing imaginable.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          I love the LC too, but it hasn’t sold (and, yes, I know it’s an expensive coupe, so that makes sense). But the new LS and the GS definitely bombed.

      • 0 avatar
        Funky D

        This kinda begs the question “What IS a luxury car in today’s market?” It was easier in the old days when Lincoln and Cadillac could take a model and just fill it up with more content, fancier chrome, a bigger engine and sell them by the boatloads. Even as late as the 1970s, it wasn’t very common for consumer-brand cars to have air conditioning or power windows. Goodies such as leather seats, upgraded stereos, and sun/moonroofs were even rarer. Just about ALL of these features are ubiquitous nowadays, so what sets luxury brands apart?

        Mercedes and BMW seem to have gone the way of disposable luxury, whose customers buy the flavor of the year and then dump them before all those tech toys and quality shortcuts break, leaving the poor sap who thinks they are actually getting a luxury car on the cheap in for a rude awakening.

        One MIGHT be able to make an argument that Lexus is the ONLY brand that offers anything resembling old-school luxury these days, and at a still-mostly-reasonable price.

  • avatar
    justVUEit

    Nissan should put the Infiniti brand on hold for a few years. Use up the parts bin o make a few limited release models and then shut the lights on the brand until the company overall gets back on its feet. Once the financials improve, if they improve, they can consider the resurrection of Infiniti. They need to staunch the bleeding from all the self-inflicted wounds.

  • avatar
    Don Mynack

    One of Nissan’s biggest problems, from an enthusiast’s perspective, is they have not made a really great (affordable) engine since the VQ35DE V6, which they stopped putting in cars in 2007. The replacement for that was junk, and they moved to a bunch of barely tune-able garbage, aside from the VR38DETT Turbo V6 in the GTR.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      The VQ35 is still available in various Nissans today, and both the VQ37VHR and VR30DETT that could be considered VQ35DE replacements are excellent and reliable powerplants.

      This is the internet car expert in a nutshell. No knowledge, strong opinions, and a strong belief that things used to be better. How original and valuable.

      • 0 avatar
        Art Vandelay

        I agreed…then went looking for that new Nissan 4 cylinder that was better than the SR20DE. Sometimes people think things were better because theyy were better.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I get that Nissan is the internet car expert’s current favorite whipping boy, but let’s pause the hot take contest for a second and look at some facts.

    – Lexus has flat out made better product for less money than the Germans at various times through its 30 year existence, and is still not considered an equal.
    – The backbone of Lexus’ success is on the very kind of “mainstreamer plus” cars all the internet experts are deriding Infiniti for pursuing.
    – 3/4 series sales are down by over half their 2014 peak in the US. The majority of those sales shifted to X1-X4 crossovers. The only RWD sedan for sale in the US with a manual transmission is the G70 2.0T. The ICE sport sedan is pretty much dead in the US.

    I’m sure folks would love a Dany Bahar style fan fic proposal where Infiniti promises an all manual RWD turbo V8 lineup with a Rolls Royce fighter at the top of the lineup to “make a statement” (gag me with a spoon), but the reality is Nissan doesn’t have that kind of money to waste, and actual luxury car buyers don’t give a crap about any of that

    I think it’s time for car enthusiasts to grow up a little bit and be more understanding of the fact that selling cars is a business that millions of people depend on for their livelihoods. Companies have to be realistic and practical, even if it means not building the dream lineup you chide manufacturers for not building but would wait to “buy used after 5 years”. The hivemind needs some new hot takes.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      +1

      In 2019, in the US market, Infiniti outsold:

      Lincoln
      Volvo
      Land Rover
      Porsche
      Mini
      Jaguar
      Genesis
      Alfa Romeo
      Fiat

      Should Porsche and Genesis be killed off, too?

      • 0 avatar
        cognoscenti

        THIS. Furthermore, don’t forget that if Infiniti is killed off, people driving Nissans will have to admit that they bought from a budget automaker. The higher end product cushions the lower end. It’s difficult to contain the retreat to just one marque.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        Profit margins matter more than volume. I don’t know what those margins are on the Infiniti brand, but I guarantee it is much less than Porsche.

        And several comments have been made about killing off some of the others on your list.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        Understood, but how many to fleets? From my experience, rental counters are flush with Infinitis – both sedans and CUVs. There’s no money to be made there and that kills image and resale value.

        Porsche prints money with each sale – one trip to their build-a-Porsche site clearly explains how they do that! Other brands on that list are in trouble as well – Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Genesis (until they get the critical CUV), Jaguar, Mini, and maybe Land Rover. Plus Infiniti needs to compete with larger players like Acura and Lexus, not smaller makers like Land Rover or Jaguar.

        I mentioned it earlier, along with Corey and a few others: Infiniti needs a mission, a reason to exist. Most of the brands you listed, you can easily name what they stand for and what you’ll get with your purchase. Can you do that with Infiniti? “Well, I bought a nice Nissan” doesn’t have the same ring as “I bought a car built on British heritage” or “I bought a world-class sports car.”

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @SCE:
        1) Lincoln, Genesis and Volvo are definitely on the rise – all have new product that is selling, so the jury’s out.
        2) Land Rover and Porsche are top-dollar brands – of course Infiniti outsells them.
        3) Mini, Alfa and Fiat are either dead, or probably will be soon.
        4) Jaguar is in the process of reinventing itself as an electric brand – we’ll see how that goes.

        Meanwhile, let’s take a look at Infiniti. Their product is all stale, and as far as I can tell, there’s nothing in the pipeline to replace it. The only exception is the QX50, which bombed. Think about that for a moment: that’s a midsize luxury CUV, introduced in the middle of an economic upswing to a market that can’t get enough of this kind of vehicle. And the QX50 is good-looking, with a very nice interior. It still bombed. Striking out with that vehicle tells me there’s something seriously wrong with this brand.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        3 of the brands you list don’t have many dedicated dealers. Saying a sort of lux brand outsells Mini, Jag and Porsche isn’t big praise either.

        Infiniti is selling old stuff – you can see it in the infotainment. That’s why they’re getting their butt kicked.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “but let’s pause the hot take contest for a second and look at some facts.”

      Ok.
      -They lost $6.2B. This is after a few years of not exactly stellar results versus the competition.
      -They’ve announced several rounds of layoffs and plant closures.
      -They are being spurned by their French partners.
      -Their former long-time CEO is at the center of a major international scandal.

      This isn’t a “muh manuals” thing. The company is doing poorly from a business perspective.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      Lexus’s current strategy is the sort of “mainstream plus” that you mention. But the reason people will pay more for them is a reputation of quality built off of the brand’s early models that completely changed expectations for what luxury cars should be. Nobody is willing to pay for those “mainstream plus” cars without the reputation that the brand forged early on via cars like the LS400. Toyota made a long term investment that paid off.

      The Q45 and other Infinity cars however were nice driving, but largely disposable compared to the Lexus cars of the time and lacked the over the top quality of the Lexus.

      It isn’t about car enthusiasts or growing up. Maybe current Lexus crossovers and what not are only equal with their competition. The brand was built around cars that exceeded the competetion however and that is the rep the current cars sell on. Nissan never made such an investment in Infinity. Frankly few automakers take such gambles and are willing to play the long game like Toyota did with Lexus and it shows. Infiniti, Acura (well Acura is a little unique), but especially the American marques. Every new car is the new best thing until the next one comes around and “no, this time we got it right…look the auto journos love it”. Toyota spent years actually building the best cars in the class and that reputation makes them the default choice. Nissan and the rest didn’t and that is the difference. Quality isn’t in a single car to those buyers…It is a reputation earned over decades.

  • avatar

    Infiniti has proved time and time again that it cannot follow a plot for more than three years at a time, nor can it develop a lineup of desirable models. Here and there bright spots have appeared but they were always almost accidental, and short-lived.

    Cut off the dying limb.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      The lack of long term vision or investment in Infiniti (and terrible money waste like the headquarter move under de Nysschen) has definitely been more the rule than an exception. I get the sentiment of wanting to get rid of it altogether.

      That said, with the brand value of Nissan and its profit margin becoming nil under Ghosn, Nissan may need every little margin they can get with their upcoming “Nissan plus” vehicles.

      Nissan seems to have put their money on their e-Power based AWD as their next premium differentiator.
      Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t, but I won’t discount them out just quite yet.

      • 0 avatar

        I will grant your point here about margins. Because these Nissan+ cars will certainly have better margins, for the ones they manage to shift.

        The dealership network is already in place as well, even if the dealers don’t act like luxury customer service outlets (they should fix this.)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    My first inclination is to say building “luxury” cars on Nissan platforms won’t work. But I’ll play devil’s advocate for a moment and point out that Lexus is doing just that – its’ entire line of crossovers and SUVs is derived directly from lesser Toyotas – and has been successful with it. Its’ bestselling sedan, the ES, is also derived directly from a Toyota. Aside from the IS, their “bespoke” RWD models don’t sell.

    My takeaway from this? We might care if luxury brands are selling luxed-up versions of lesser models, but the luxury car market simply doesn’t give a s**t. Therefore, *in theory*, Infiniti can get away with this.

    Problem is, of course, that Infiniti isn’t Lexus…and for that matter, Nissan isn’t Toyota. Toyota’s cheaper stuff is good enough to fluff up into a luxury car; Nissan’s isn’t.

    And with that, the devil’s advocacy is over. Lexus *matters* as a brand, and has for a long, long time, and Infiniti hasn’t. No better example exists than the QX50. It looked like a can’t-miss deal – a good looking, well appointed CUV that is aimed right at one of the market’s hottest segments. And literally no one cared.

    Far as I’m concerned, if Infiniti can’t sell the QX50, then the brand’s dead, and pumping a bunch of more expensive Nissans into the showroom is just chasing failure.

    Close it down.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      You can only sell dressed up versions of lesser models if your brand’s reputation has earned it. Look at Lexus. I think back on when they came to market what a revelation they were. Impeccable build quality and performance that rivaled the Germans. And then they kept it up with the generations that followed. That is what many folks with high end Lexus money think of when they think Lexus and that is what makes the brand desirable even with its current offerings. People didn’t just say “ooohhh…We like Lexuses”.

      Now Infinity came out around the same time. What do I remember? The ads were weird and they never showed the car, which I see waaaaay less frequently today than early Lexuses.

      Anyway, that is why people pony up for “near Luxury” Lexus models and not Infinitys

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        @ Art Vandelay Lexus makes luxury cars that are full-size American truck dependable. A truly astonishing concept to some, expected for Lexus owners. Spend time at “Club Lexus” with restraint. Good information with fanboys interspersed through out.

  • avatar
    Pig_Iron

    How about bring back Datsun? :-)

  • avatar
    s_a_p

    I dont see an easy way forward for Nissan. Their pedestrian cars have been cheapened too much to offer a solid luxury car base. All of the Nissan power trains are CVT and FWD which while fine isn’t premium. The trucks arent refined enough to build SUVs with. The Z based platform is the only reasonable path forward but people arent buying that format right now(or ever again???)

  • avatar
    eCurmudgeon

    Former G35 6MT and current G37x owner here. Infiniti needs to die with the modicum of dignity it still has left.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I disagree, Nissan is such a huge brand worldwide and while the Infinit moniker is not used in all markets, Nissan needs the Infiniti nameplate to sell its wares in some markets. The relative health of the “Nissan” brand is the biggest hurdle to a turnaround at the moment. Ghosn’s strategy of volume uber alles has hurt the mark. All Infiniti models as it is are already, just Nissan Plus. While there may be some unique bits that Infinit gets, it is not distant enough from Nissan and too focused on moving metal vs brand image. As it stands, Infiniti is probably at least 5 years away from any significant brand renaissance but as a long term investment, I think it is essential for Nissan to stay the course. If they dont, 10 years from now they will wish they had as they figure out how to market luxury wares under the Nissan name.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    The sooner it’s gone, the better. Lexus and Acura need to go the same way.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Negative on Acura – its’ CUVs are selling, and that’s the key with luxury brands now.

      And Lexus…well, unless you think they deserve the needle for bad styling choices (and, yeah, a lot of their stuff, particularly the RX, looks like crap), I don’t see why you think they need to die.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        @FreedMike: To me, they’re a distraction from their core brand. I remember when the ‘luxury’ brands first came out and to be blunt, they were all badge-engineered from the core models with slightly better interiors. They aren’t that much different even today.

        • 0 avatar
          jack4x

          That is the point.

          Selling a similar car with more luxurious features, a better dealership experience, and a higher price is very profitable. Profits that allow for the lesser cars to be better than they otherwise would be.

          Toyota is the largest automaker in the world. I hardly think one additional brand to manage is distracting them to the point of sacrificing anything in the Toyota showroom.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Better dealership experience was a fantasy back when the brands started; they were sold right beside their Toyota/Nissan/Honda brothers on the same lot. Having a separate lot for those faux-lux brands today doubles the cost and offers little, if any, true added profit.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            That is simply wrong, Lexus has never been sold at a Toyota lot and their dealership experience is widely regarded as the best in the business.

            You can have your opinions about how necessary it is to carry a luxury brand, but tell the truth.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            @Vulpine — I think you made a mistake and wrote “Lexus,” when you meant “Lincoln.” Lincoln’s the one that tries to sell luxury cars alongside ones that cost half as much.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @jack4x: I beg to differ about the, “Lexus has never been sold at a Toyota…” Were you driving when the Lexus brand first came out? What about Infiniti and Acura. To be blunt, that’s how I learned which ‘lux’ brand belonged to which Japanese OEM.

          • 0 avatar
            Lou_BC

            “Selling a similar car with more luxurious features, a better dealership experience, and a higher price is very profitable.”

            With the exception of “better dealership experience” that is the recipe used by the “BIG 3” pickup truck makers.
            Add some leather, some better sound deadening and “soft touch plastics” and a “free” 20k profit margin over the base vehicle.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            Et Al: Ok, so I was off by seven years. So were you, baggins.

            “Created at around the same time as Japanese rivals Honda and Nissan created their Acura and Infiniti luxury divisions respectively, Lexus originated from a corporate project to develop a new premium sedan, code-named F1, which began in 1983 and culminated in the launch of the Lexus LS in 1989.[5] Subsequently, the division added sedan, coupé, convertible and SUV models. Lexus did not exist as a brand in its home market until 2005,” —- https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexus

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Are Lexuses built on Toyota platforms? Yes. Are they “badge engineered”? Hardly.

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @FreedMike: I didn’t say, “They are.” I said, “They were.” Go back to the early ’70s when they first came out. They were essentially identical and WERE sold on the same lots as the Toyotas themselves.

            Yes, I’ve been driving for THAT long and longer. I owned my first car in 1969.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            I know it. No one seems to remember those Lexus products of the early 1970s. And you *never* see any of them around these days, neither for sale nor at shows.

            It’s wild. You should post a link to a picture of one so folks can remember what they were like.

          • 0 avatar
            baggins

            Early 70s? Lexus launched in 1989

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            Vulpine, if you can find me a picture or any info on a Lexus from the 70s, I’ll admit you’re right about Fiat, right about small trucks, and delete my account. If you can’t, please just admit you were wrong here and move on.

            Until then, read up on the rules for Lexus dealers from Toyota corporate; you might actually learn something. Lexus dealers can’t even put their own name on the franchise, only “Lexus of [location]“. I don’t believe they are allowed to share dealer space with any other brand, let alone Toyota. They value the dealership experience above all. I’ve never seen Acura share space with Honda or Nissan with Infiniti but maybe it happens. I can promise you it doesn’t happen at Lexus.

          • 0 avatar

            What even is happening in this thread?

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            Please include a 1970s Lexus on the next installment of “Rare Rides”.

          • 0 avatar

            On it.

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            @ FreedMike Vulpine wants to regale us with tales of drinking canned Natty Bo while cruising around in his 74 Lexus mini-truck. @ Vulpine, I kid Sir, I kid. I humbly suggest you check out “The Lexus Story” and “Lexus the Relentless Pursuit”.

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            Can I just use this opportunity to say I would have loved to see Lexus’ take on the 70s brougham luxo barge.

            I’m imagining a Mark IV with 300,000 mile longevity. Sort of an Americanized Century.

          • 0 avatar

            Toyota didn’t because the Century was too serious. But Nissan absolutely did make brougham luxo barges.

            https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2018/03/rare-rides-1979-nissan-president-executive-luxury-brougham/

          • 0 avatar
            jack4x

            Don’t know how I missed that Rare Rides when it was posted but what a car.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    1. Stop the stupidity of “everything is named Q-“. We knew what an M, I, G and FX were.
    2. Since you can fully load out an Altima and Pathfinder these days to near-luxury, enhancing Nissans as Infinitis is not a noble path forward.
    3. Start, and remain, small. One RWD/AWD chassis for 2 car models (small & medium), another for 3 crossover models (small, medium, large).

    I remember how visually offended I was when the FX first arrived, and yet in short time I recognized how distinctive the shape was. They sold a ton of them in my region.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I think the “alphanumeric names are the problem” argument fails.

      Proof? Two words: Lincoln Continental. If you can’t sell a car with THAT name, then the car’s not sellable.

      More proof? We’ll dip back into the Lincoln well: Lincoln Aviator. Remember the first Aviator? If so, you’re in a distinct minority – it bombed (despite the fact that it actually was a pretty nice piece). But this one has the same name and IS selling…because it looks sensational. I think they could have named it MK-whatever and it’d still have been a success.

      Product sells if it’s right; if it’s not, it doesn’t really matter what it’s named.

      • 0 avatar
        Dave M.

        I’m going to have to disagree on both points.

        The new Continental, which I personally think is a very handsome and distinct looking car, is not selling because it’s a large sedan. Hardly any large luxury sedans are selling.

        Secondly I have to disagree with the Aviator Gen 1 – I’ve seen quite a few around here in the Houston area over the years, and when the Explorer went FWD, there was no Lincoln or Mercury (for obvious reasons) equivalent model. Lincoln pushed the hell out of the Edge- twinned MKX.

        I’d love to see a top-shelf trim level called Continental for the Aviator. But I guess Black Label is sufficient….

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          @Dave:

          My point exactly…product sells, and the Continental was the wrong product at the wrong time. Naming it “Continental” didn’t do anything for it.

          • 0 avatar
            baggins

            Freed – you cant make a silk purse from a cow’s ear, but shitty all letter/number naming conventions make it worse, unless you’ve been using them for years like MBZ or BMW and have created value in an “E Class”, “S Class” “3 Series”

            Just up and deciding to do it all at once like INfiniti did was just confusing.

      • 0 avatar
        JMII

        I do think the naming hurts, not necessary a name vs some random number but the connection to a known and respected or desired product. If you listen to non-car people talk they know what a Ranger is, they know what a GTI or an F150 is. However if you change the name (once established) you lose that connection.

        Word of mouth advertising is the best thing in the world, so a brand needs to capitalize on it as much as possible. A conversation with friends or co-workers might go like this: “Bob in accounting got a new Civic, I hear they are good cars”. Contrast this with “Bob bought a Q-something, never heard of it, maybe its one of those fancy Nissans?”. That disconnect equals lost brand awareness and will kill sales long term. If potential buyers don’t know what a Q60 is they can’t research it.

        Even better is when you just remember the manufacture. For example my non-car friends don’t say Model S or X, they just say “Tesla”. Infiniti never managed to create that kind of recognition… regardless of what they were called. But as Dave pointed out above at least people had clue what a G or FX was. The M was dicey due the M BMWs.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Many of us have reached the point where we don’t care what happens to Nissan and Infinity. Both are like terminally ill patients that either need to be taken off life support or a mercy killing.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Bringing Infinity back would require years of building cars with over the top quality knowing they will likely lose money. You don’t build one great car and turn around a reputation. You build it and people by in large don’t buy it because your reputation stinks. Then you build the next gen, and more people buy it because “Hey, those older ones are holding up well:. Then after a third or 4th generation that is built at a level where you want to be, maybe people buy them because now you have a solid reputation. Once you have that reputation you can sell gars like the Lexus ES and people will pay more based on the reputation.

    Branding is a thing, but look at the brands that people will pay more for. Lexus, Mercedes, BMW…say what you want about current product lines but their reputations were built on high quality products that were desirable based on the product…not just the brand.

    now personally, I am not a giant fan of that strategy long term (I think it ends with Cadillac and Lincoln) but I don’t run a car company but I know enough to know that if you never bothered to build that reputation in the first place, nobody wants to pay more for your brand. Enter Infinity.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      That seems to be what Genesis is doing. They’re putting in hard work to make desirable products, each profoundly better than the last, and each with a more-distinctive design language.

      At the same time, their parent company—Hyundai—put in the work to go from something you settled for to something you seek out.

    • 0 avatar
      theflyersfan

      Remember that Toyota lost money on every single LS400 they built for the first couple of years. Why? It had to be perfect. Every piece of plastic had to have the right feel, extra sound isolation, the right wood, the 3D gauges, top end stereo and speakers, brand new engine, top quality leather, you name it – no expense was spared. All for $35,000 (1990) dollars. I believe the competition was selling for over $20,000 more.

      That is why you still see some first gen LS400s on the streets today. Yes, they’ve seen better days, but they are still running. I have an aunt and uncle that got one of the very first LS400s in Ohio. When they were done with it and it bounced around family members in different states and climates, it had well over 300,000 miles on it, and almost everything was original under the hood. I recall hearing the only thing that failed was the sensor that measured the windshield wiper fluid.

      They were perfection, plain and simple. People might not have all agreed on the very conservative styling or the lack of a prestige name, but no one can deny that Toyota sweat every single little detail that went into that car. That’s what sealed the Lexus name and still carries them today (even with that awful mug on most of their vehicles now!)

      • 0 avatar
        ToolGuy

        theflyersfan,

        GM used to hold “Competitive Drive Events” at the Milford Proving Ground, with around 50 current-model vehicles from a wide range of manufacturers. In ~1991 I drove an LS400 back-to-back with several of its competitors. It was truly revolutionary. [Aimed squarely at Mercedes-Benz at the time.]

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        I don’t know how much money they really lost on each early LS 400, if any. Keep in mind that, while it was quite a bargain, upon its inception, the Japanese bubble hadn’t burst yet. It was far cheaper to build and engineer a car of such excellence there, at first. And, there’s no dispute that the thing was basically flawless.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Kill Infiniti but keep the RWD/AWD sedan platform as a reborn Maxima. Pour development money into the new 400Z or whatever it’s going to be called.

    This will allow us enthusiasts to forgive many sins.

    You’re Welcome, Nissan.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      @PrincipalDan: First thing Nissan needs to do is get rid of those CVTs. At best they were an interim solution and according to most reviews they need replacement far more often than modern geared transmissions. Worse, they cost less to replace than they do to repair.

      That’s also my problem with Mazda. When wife was looking for a potential replacement for her Renegade, we looked at both Nissan and Mazda and decided their brands were not for her simply because of their mostly CVT lineup.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Which Mazda’s have CVTs?

        Mazda has stuck stubbornly to a 6-speed automatic which may be down gears compared to its rivals but at least is tried and true. I’d prefer that over Nissan or Subaru with a “CVT ALL THE THINGS!” mentality.

    • 0 avatar
      Varezhka

      The Infiniti FM RWD platform is already 17 years old.
      It doesn’t support many of the modern safety technologies or allow for electrification that Nissan sees as the way forward.

      It’s basically Nissan’s version of the Chrysler LX platform. Too outdated to update and too costly for a complete do over.

      The upcoming new Z, I understand, will be the last of this platform before riding into sunset.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Additionally, all of these Japanese lux brands came to be at a time when the market wasn’t going to pay those prices for Toyotas, Hondas, or Nissans. With respect to at least 2 of those, is that even the case anymore?

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    For any luxury car maker – like Cadillac and Infiniti – you have to offer more bang-for-the-buck than the big-3 German luxury makers.

    It worked back in the day of the G35/G37, but Infiniti seems to have been caught off guard by the rise of the crossover. Yes I know they sell them but, for whatever reason, they have never caught on with the general public.

    And to be honest – and this from an owner of a 2008 M35x that I really like in a big old-school sort of way – there is something down-rent about Infiniti. When I see one, I think “So you couldn’t afford the Mercedes, eh?” Which is perfectly fine but there are plenty of other brands trying to fit in the entry-to-mid luxury vehicle tier. Acura and now even Mazda wants a piece of that pie.

    I honestly don’t know what will cure Infiniti’s ills – perhaps some beautiful crossovers that ooze class. Like Lincoln! (did I just say that?)

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Your making me recall when Infiniti sedans and coupes would regularly place 2nd in C&D comparison tests to their BMW equivalents. Most of the time C&D would have to defend themselves as to why the Infiniti didn’t finish FIRST.

      With current Infiniti that era seems like a long time ago.

  • avatar

    You cannot compare Infiniti with Lincoln or Cadillac. Lincoln is a true luxury brand bought by Ford and same with Cadillac. Infiniti in the other hand is a made up brand like all Asian “luxury” brands. They have no heritage and are pure marketing exercises selling Nissans, Hyundais, Toyotas and Hondas under different brand. That’s why they cannot compete with true luxury automakers from Germany. Yes, Infiniti may be gone and no one will notice.

  • avatar
    Luke42

    The problem with these the-vendor-wishes-it-was-a-luxury-brand brands is that they don’t have anything to differentiate themselves.

    If I were king, I would turn Infiniti and Cadillac into electric-only brands.

    Now, we have a real technological difference, and it’s something you can’t get for less from the mainstream partner brand.

    Most people who want an RWD V8 have one already. That layout has it’s charm, I suppose, but it’s been obsolete for decades. EVs are the new upcoming / aspirational thing.

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