By on December 2, 2020

After teasing, promises, and COVID-related delays, the Infiniti QX55 debuted a few weeks ago, as Infiniti eagerly drew direct comparisons between their new “classy” successor and the departed FX35/45. You might remember that shapely SUV headed to its demise in 2017 after it was left to rot for a few years, then renamed QX70. Infiniti chose to ignore its final QX70 name in the press materials and call it FX instead, which says something about their branding strategy, doesn’t it?

Today I’m here to tell you this “new car” is a perfect example of exactly what’s wrong at Infiniti, and the changes needed years ago, not sometime in the future.

2022 Infiniti QX55. Image: InfinitiDespite the framing of the new QX55 as successor to the FX, a rear-drive based and V6/V8 powered SUV, the two don’t have much in common. FX was far ahead of its time in its display of “coupe SUV” styling, and much more legitimate as a sporty luxury SUV in its context than this new crossover. Underneath FX was the platform of the G35, for the record. The QX55 offers two less than six cylinders and is front-drive, utilizing the QX50’s compact crossover platform.

The QX55 is a slightly chopped version of the relatively unsuccessful QX50, where the roof and cargo area are lower, and the whole vehicle is slightly less useful in the name of “style.” QX55 joins the ranks of the Volkswagen Atlas Cross and the Toyota Venza in this trend. The merits of such design aside, look closely at the QX55, inside and out.

2022 Infiniti QX55. Image: InfinitiInside are a collection of Infiniti parts donated from other vehicles. Notably, the center stack, wheel, and most of the buttons hail from the Q50 sedan. That’s unfortunate given their quality in general, the resolution and size of the screens, and the fact the lot is from circa 2014. Check out those window switches!

Outside, the new ride repeats the same styling theme Infiniti has used for years, accompanied by uneven panel gaps and a tailgate which even on the press photos is visibly misaligned. There’s just nothing new on this all-new car, aside from some roof shapes. And check the key in the man’s hand in the headline photo. It debuted on the G35 in 2006.

One could extend these comments to the rest of the aging Infiniti lineup as well. The brand’s present trajectory seems to usher its transformation into a crossover-only outlet, which is absent the performance and rear-drive roots of the brand. And I suppose that’s not an awful approach, perhaps it’s even necessary for today’s crossover-hungry market.

InfinitiBut Infiniti is not especially good at selling crossovers, either. The QX50 had all the hallmarks of a crossover people might want, yet customers largely turned to Lexus or Acura instead. In Q3 2020, Infiniti shifted 5,500 QX50s, while Acura sold 15,038 copies of the RDX. It’s hard to fail at the compact or midsize crossover game, but here we are. And by the way, the company has zero present electrification. It tried an expensive Q50 hybrid previously with the old VQ35 engine, but that didn’t last long.

But maybe that sort of failure is a good thing from Nissan’s perspective, because as they announced previously their intention is to create a “Nissan-plus” lineup at their luxury brand. It’s beyond my understanding why anyone would willingly and intentionally draw a direct line from Infiniti to Nissan and make the former sound like a trim level of the latter, but that’s another issue.

The company has two electric concept designs in the Q and QX Inspirations, which are of sedan and crossover shapes respectively. They’re exciting in theory, and carry the new origami-inspired dented paper design theme the brand will use. But the last time they talked about them was in late 2019, and there’s no date given for these EV product releases. What’s taking so long?

Speaking as someone who willingly bought two Infiniti vehicles in past (the other was an I30), I’m also speaking as someone who’d avoid anything they make today. Unfortunately, I don’t see movement on that needle any time soon. Infiniti should work on building excitement and a solid portfolio of upcoming EV models. Create an EV (and electrified) path forward with cars people actually want to buy, and get one on sale as soon as possible. Creating slightly modified versions of the Altima-adjacent things already on sale while avoiding major product updates like a crowded restaurant in The Current Year? That’s not cutting it, and you can do better.

Infiniti needs to drop the Nissan-plus ideas and go all-in on EV development, yesterday.

[Images: Infiniti, Corey Lewis/TTAC]

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

81 Comments on “Opinion: Infiniti is Headed Nowhere Fast, and Needs an Entirely Different Approach...”


  • avatar
    jmo

    Reviewers noted that the the GV80 is a pure luxury SUV. I think that hints at Hyundai having a long term strategy of launching a sporty luxury division of Kia. Genesis will be the Korean Mercedes to Kia’s yet unnamed luxury division’s BMW.

    I have doubts that Infinity can survive competition from Genesis let alone competition from two luxury Korean rivals.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I think Genesis is looking to be what Lexus was when it began – a cheaper premium brand. And I think they might succeed – Lexus has gone upmarket, so there’s some room at the lower end of the “true premium brand” market. The big difference between Genesis and Infiniti is that Genesis product is good enough to be considered against comparable stuff from Ze Germans and Lexus; Infiniti is basically “Japanese Buick.”

      But Genesis needs its’ own set of dedicated dealers to make this happen. Sharing showroom space with Hyundais is NOT going to work.

      • 0 avatar

        Based on what I saw in Alex D’s video on the GV80, they pulled out all the stops in a very 1990 Lexus sort of way. Especially so for the interior! I think it’s gonna kill it.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Actually, Genesis is gunning to be the less expensive alternative to Mercedes/BMW – by offering a complete lineup of RWD sedans and crossovers.

        In contrast, Lexus mostly sells cheaper tarted-up FWD Toyota-based crossovers and the ES.

        The GS is canceled, the LS is selling at a fraction of what it once did (even with hefty discounts on offer) and Toyota couldn’t be bothered to replace the aging IS, going again with a 2nd refresh (and if the IS does end up getting a replacement, likely will be more a Mazda).

        Really, how is that much different from the Nissan+ characterization of Infiniti?

        Lexus is planning on another FWD crossover that’s smaller than the UX.

        Now, Lexus does have a RWD CUV in development, but it’s going to be priced alongside the LS 500 despite being a 2-row (based on the concept), so likely not going to move in significant volume like the 3-row FWD crossover that will assume the Crown nameplate – of which Lexus will be getting its own version (meanwhile, Genesis will likely greenlight the GV90).

        The GV80 is priced higher than the RX/RX-L and so will the upcoming GV70 (priced higher than the NX).

        The 1st GV80s have been going for around $5k above MSRP, so for the 3.5TT with Prestige package, we’re talking around $75k.

        The RX/RX-L can’t even sniff that price-point.

        The ATP for Infiniti, Lexus and Genesis are pretty much on par with each other (and about $10k higher than for Acura).

        But with the upcoming models, Genesis should start pulling away from the Japanese.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          “Really, how is that much different from the Nissan+ characterization of Infiniti?”

          Lexus has been in the top 3 (most often #1) for vehicle reliability in publications for basically my entire life. That’s what sells them. If Infiniti can pull that kind of quality reputation off with Nissan+ then go for it, but if they can’t then they need a different USP.

          Lexus also tends to have much better dealers than what you’ll find with either Infiniti or Genesis.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Reliability has little to do with prestige, much less desirability (resulting in higher trims/performance packages selling).

            Lexus (and Toyota) has kept reliability up in large part by keep the same powertrains around for seemingly forever.

            The downside to this is that Lexus keeps falling behind when it comes to performance, hence, the decline in IS, GS and LS sales, with the RC sales also slow.

            The performance F line never took off.

            And with FWD based crossovers basically sharing powerplants with Toyotas, the best Lexus will do is an appearance F-Sport package.

            The Camry is renowned for its reliability, but it also is often at the bottom of its segment when it comes to ATP.

            Not exactly exciting (appliance), so most buyers don’t bother with the higher or sport trims (plus the fleet sales).

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            “Reliability has little to do with prestige, much less desirability (resulting in higher trims/performance packages selling).”

            What do you base that on? Cadillac, Mercedes, and Lexus all built their brand’s reputation over decades through their build quality. It is why anyone is buying a Lexus today and Toyota isn’t losing money on the brand. It is also outselling Infiniti by more than 2:1 in recent years.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            I’m talking about the models that actually sell,

            Aside from the LS and LC which don’t sell in very large volumes, the Infiniti lineup pretty much mirrors that of Lexus.

            Pretty much FWD-based crossovers and BoF SUVs – which share a lot with their respective Nissan or Toyota variant, with the lone RWD holdout selling in any real volume being the Q50 and IS, with the Q50 faring better (the coupe versions don’t sell as well, but like for the sedans, the Q60 outsells the RC).

            Neither have RWD models (esp. sedans) that sell in volume anywhere, which is why they are dropping models and/or taking it real slow when it comes to doing a replacement.

            At least for Infiniti, they had RWD-based crossovers.

            Genesis is not doing FWD anything, including for crossovers, so the GV80 and GV70 are/will be priced a bit higher than the NX and RX.

            A loaded GV80 lists for $72k (and a higher performance variant should be forthcoming).

            A loaded RX-L doesn’t go anywhere close to that or the pricing for the Aviator.

            And again, reliability has little to do with prestige/desirability (build quality isn’t the same thing as reliability).

            While Land Rover (specifically Range Rover) has a reputation for build quality, has a horrendous reputation for reliability, and yet LR sells gobs of Range Rovers that can climb well into the 6 figures.

            The Germans don’t exactly have the best reputation for reliability either and yet MB and BMW sell tons more at a higher pricepoint than Lexus.

          • 0 avatar
            bd2

            Lexus’ continued reputation for reliability and its dealer network has done absolutely NOTHING to curtail the sharp decline in sales of its higher-end sedans.

            The GS is canceled and sales of the LS are fraction of what they once were.

            Even the IS didn’t warrant a replacement at the normal time and like for the LS 460, ended up getting a 2nd refresh.

            Years ago, Lexus had a higher ATP than Audi, but Audi has since surpassed Lexus some time ago.

            The whole reliability-thing has actually worked against Lexus when it has come to the upper end of the lux market, including performance oriented buyers.

            A big part of keeping reliability up has been sticking to tried and true powertrains (the NA V6) or going with a lower boosted engine (the 2.0T) that is underpowered compared to the competition.

            Pretty much all Lexus models are rated above-average by Consumer Reports – the lone exception being the newest Lexus model, the LS 500 which is rated BELOW average.

            One of the main reasons for the below average rating is the new TTV6 motor.

            Buyers can get more performance from the Germans and even Genesis, Cadillac and Lincoln these days.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          The ATP for Infiniti is on par with Lexus?

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Kia doesn’t have the financial wherewithal to launch a separate luxury brand like what Hyundai has done with Genesis.

      That being said, look for Kia to continue selectively entering the luxury/performance market.

      Kia, reportedly, has been mulling doing a lux crossover, so can definitely see a “sport” CUV (something btwn the size of the GV70 and GV80) in the future (whether it will be an addition to, or a replacement of the Stinger is another question).

  • avatar
    Fred

    I just found their products too expensive and the dealer not as nice as I’d expect from a luxury dealer. I could of gone with a Audi or Lexus for the same money, or save some money and go for the Acura

    • 0 avatar

      I’m with you on the dealership experience there. Both my encounters were far less than ideal.

      Especially when they gave me my car back with oil on the seat and a scratch on the pillar inside.

      …then denied both things.

    • 0 avatar
      zerofoo

      Same here on the dealer and brand experience. I bought a G35 that ran rough at low speeds. The dealer did a bunch of warranty work admitting that it probably wouldn’t fix the problem – since all of their G35 loaners also did the same thing.

      Finally after multiple warranty attempts to fix the problem Nissan told me they could do no more and would only extend my engine warranty to 100,000 miles. It seems Nissan doesn’t think their Infiniti customers should be treated any better than their Nissan customers.

      Neither the dealer nor Nissan North America was interested in fixing the problem.

      I traded out of that car in a hurry and never looked back.

    • 0 avatar
      NormSV650

      Infiniti Deathwatch 2020!

      Acura hasn’t sold much more annually over the years.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I agree that the brand is a bit listless in terms of being a relevant luxury brand. In reality, I think it has been a Nissan+ trim level for quite some time already. Which isn’t really all that bad depending on the donor vehicle and parts. For at least the last decade, Infiniti’s largest draw, so far as I know, has been the piles of cash on the hood. Again, not a bad thing if you are looking for a nice vehicle that can at least be considered “near-luxury” and you like a good deal.

    The biggest sin in my eyes for Infiniti and many other luxury brands similarly situated (Acura, Cadillac, Lincoln) is the constant alpha-numeric shuffle. What are they thinking discarding names so frequently. They are difficult enough to remember already. Infiniti should be running with “G”s and “FX”s still. Nobody remembers your cars if you are listening second tier luxury brands!!! The brands you are competing against have had a consistent naming strategy for many decades and are household names. Lincoln has done a nice job reversing this trend, Acura should follow suit. I dont really thing Cadillac’s heritage names would really do all that well in today’s market, so just stick with the letters and numbers you already have….please.

  • avatar
    3SpeedAutomatic

    Was never impressed with Infiniti in the last few years. The design was “me too” with the mad cat front end styling. A “herd” mentality reflects a lack of vision.

    Infiniti needs to find a “design language” like Lincoln has found in the last few years. If not, it will be a candidate for dismissal considering Nissan’s current financial crisis.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    Their naming rebrand a few years ago was just a mess, yeah.

    • 0 avatar
      DungBeetle62

      Pretty much every other place Johan de Nysschen tried that trick, everything with a number was sequenced where smaller numbers were smaller cars, and bigger…

      Also, rarely did anyone throw the curveball on one model literally changing nothing of note other than the name. “It was the FX50 last year, it’s the Q70 this year.”

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Changes in nomenclature has little to do with success/failure.

      Benz changed the nomenclature of its crossover lineup (now, it makes sense).

      Bringing back the Continental nameplate didn’t do much for the large Lincoln sedan.

      Kia replaced the Optima with the K5 nameplate here and sales have been strong.

      JdN wasn’t at Infiniti for long (was smart to abandon ship, because he soon learned that Ghosn had no intention of investing in Infiniti; Ghosn actually contemplated killing the brand), and the most influential decision he made wax to send the Q60 coupe back to the drawing board (original design was too bland).

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        “Changes in nomenclature has little to do with success/failure.”

        Maybe, but even then I think what Infiniti did may be the exception. It not only nuked any equity the brand had with the G and FX but it was relatively garbled and as DungBeetle pointed out it was a name change without any substance change.

        Now if they kept the old names would Infiniti be on Easy Street? I doubt it, but such knee-capping whimsy points to systematic mismanagement.

        • 0 avatar
          bd2

          What played a much bigger role was Ghosn starving Infiniti of resources.

          Ghosn tried to cut R&D spending by having Infiniti source components from Daimler and we know how “well” that worked out.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    Nicest car I ever had was a 2008 G35 sedan assembled in Tochigi. That machine was screwed together exceptionally well.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I’d argue the last-gen G sedan/coupe was Peak Infiniti. They were darn legit cars.

    • 0 avatar
      Dawnrazor

      I had a 2010 (G37) from new, and feel the same way. That car was screwed together as well as any of the best Japanese stuff during the peak era; 128k and not a SINGLE malfunction, squeak, or rattle.

      The only drawback was its thirst for frequent oil changes with fairly expensive oil, but that was no biggie considering how much the engine gave in return!

  • avatar
    Cicero

    “Nissan-Plus” is an interesting way of positioning Infiniti. I wonder whether GM will follow suit and start marketing its Cadillacs as “Chevy-Plus.”

  • avatar
    ajla

    Their only compelling product is the Q60 because it has a standard V6, is available in top trim for under $60K and also looks neither like demented buttocks nor like it belongs at Boomer CruiseFest ’99.
    But no one cares about coupes.

    The QX80 is also the greatest Chrysler Aspen.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    How many near luxury brands have been anything but their lower end brand ‘plus’ for the past few decades?

    Personally I liked the styling of some of the Infiniti products.

    Unfortunately I can never remember the names given to their models. Alpha-numeric naming of models will become illegal when I become ultimate ruler.

    Why just trash things because they are old? I would rather have older switch gear, technology, etc that has been fine tuned for long term reliability. And for utility. For example I now have 2 vehicles that are the same make/model/trim level. For the older one I can adjust the radio and change bands/channels using a dedicated dial. On the new one I have to use the touch screen which requires taking my eyes off the road, and which is almost impossible to see under some conditions due to glare from the sun.

    Stop allowing millennials (or younger) with perfect eyesight, fingers that don’t have arthritis, who live in warm climates and often drive only minimal miles from designing cars!!!!!

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      There’s a difference between “old school/classic” and just “old”. The Infiniti UI is better than the disaster Lexus created but IMO it isn’t refreshingly simple either. Plus if you aren’t into screen interfaces then I doubt you’ll like Infiniti’s *two levels* of screens.

      • 0 avatar
        Arthur Dailey

        Personally I believe that all vehicle interiors should be designed using a panel composed only of long distance truck drivers, cabbies/Uber drivers, mothers of young children, and ‘young’ seniors.

        Once they have agreed on a lay-out, switchgear, etc then the prototypes should be taken north in the dead of winter and driven for a few months to determine if they can be used by someone wearing gloves, if they will freeze and stop working, if they can be seen at night and operated without taking your eyes off the road, and if they are ‘robust’.

        Only then should they be used in vehicle manufacturing.

        • 0 avatar
          Arthur Dailey

          Interior vehicle upholstery should be designed and/or approved by panels comprising parents of young children, dog owners, cabbies/Uber/Limo drivers, long range truckers and police officers.

          That should ensure that it is durable, easily cleaned and comfortable.

    • 0 avatar
      Lichtronamo

      It seems the only true luxury brands are MB and BMW that don’t widely share platforms, equipment, switchgear, etc. with mainstream brands. Infiniti, Lexus, Cadillac, Lincoln, Acura, Genesis and even Audi to a degree cannot escape mention of their respective mainstream brands when discussing their lineups. Some of these brands mentioned do a better job of masking the relationship than others – Lincoln’s new design language or Acura CUVs compared to their Honda stablemates are good examples.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        BMW shares plenty with MINI, it’s just saved from that reputation because no one buys MINIs.
        JLR shares a lot with itself but now that they’ve dropped the Ecoboost engines they are fairly divorced from mainstream brands.

        • 0 avatar
          Lichtronamo

          BMW/MINI is limited to 1 product the X1 and Countryman. No one is going to look at the inside or outside of those vehicles and find obviously shared components. And if you look at the cost of MINI, it is in of itself an upmarket brand.

          • 0 avatar
            ajla

            What platform is the X2 on? What platform is the 2-series GC on? What about the B38 and B48 engines? A MINI 2-door starts at $22,400 and a Countryman starts under $30K.

            I think you are completely wrong here. BMW is easily as guilty as those other brands you mentioned.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        Um, some MB models shared parts with SMART, and models like the Citan (Renault Kangoo) and the X-Class (Nissan Navara) are reworked versions of vehicles from mainstream brands.

        While upgraded, the current A Class is NOT luxury (the C Class only finally got an interior that passed for luxury this generation), and the original A and B Classes were nothing but pure econoboxes.

        FWD MB models have also used various Renault components, including engines.

        And when Daimler owned Chrysler, MB platforms were used by Chrysler, Jeep, etc.

        hen you have the taxi fleet editions of the E Class, as well as the Mercedes commercial lineup – which not only includes vans like the Sprinter, but heavy duty trucks, including sanitation trucks.

        The new Genesis models (like the GV80 and new G80) don’t share any switchgear with Hyundai and Genesis has no plans at the moment to do more affordable small, FWD models.

        Mercedes is pretty much a full-line auto manufacturer.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    I find myself in agreement with much of what Corey’s criticizing, but – and feel free to hate away – I actually like the styling on the Q55, even if I’d never buy one of these silly “CUV coupes.” We can whine all day about how this doesn’t have a six, and the fact that it has a CVT, but the people who buy them will literally not give a flying f**k if the price is reasonable.

    The concept here is “Buicks by Nissan,” and not just on the “Chevy-plus” level – clearly it’s going to be an all CUV/SUV brand, just like Buick is. I don’t think that’s a bad approach, as long as the prices are reasonable. Lord knows they failed trying to go head to head with the likes of Mercedes, and there are hundreds of Infiniti stores out there that need something to sell, so yeah, go downmarket a bit and see how it goes. Why not?

    If I were Nissan, before going down the “electrify or die” path, I’d try selling what they have at a more reasonable price point, and focus on upgrading the tech, and the dealer experience. “Japanese Buick” might not be a bad thing to try, as long as they’re not pricing this stuff like a Mercedes. There are plenty of people out there who don’t want EVs, and besides, does Nissan even have a good EV platform or tech?

    • 0 avatar
      rpn453

      You figure Infiniti CVT buyers are too prudish for the mile-high club?!

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “but the people who buy them will literally not give a flying f**k”

      But as Corey pointed out, even during CUV-Mania, sales of the QX50 are not great. Save the Jaguar and the Alfa *every* premium or luxury branded CUV in its class outsells it, often handily. I don’t think the slanty-roof version is going to move the needle much.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        @Ajla:

        I haven’t made a detailed study as to why the QX50 doesn’t sell well, but I can think of one obvious issue: have you seen any advertising for it? I can’t seem to recall any, which means they either aren’t promoting it, or the advertising is bad, which is as bad as no advertising at all. Ditto for the entire line, now that I think of it. I think some better marketing would definitely help the whole brand.

        Would a better, sharper driving experience help? It couldn’t hurt. But keep in mind the same folks who aren’t buying these are buying comparable Mercedes, Audi and BMW with similar engines, and while I’m not a fan of CVTs in anything, much less something selling for this money, I doubt most consumers would even know what kind of transmission this car has. They’re looking for a prestigious appliance, basically. Put differently: if folks buying cars like this were all about “the drive,” there’s no way the Lexus RX would sell as well as it does.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          “I haven’t made a detailed study as to why the QX50 doesn’t sell well”

          New scientific research shows the QX50 simply sucks.

          • 0 avatar
            FreedMike

            It does suck by the standards of folks like us who love cars, but we aren’t the target market here. The target market buys TONS of cars like this that suck. Excellent example: the Cadillac XT5.

            Frankly, if people who bought stuff like this actually cared about cars, they’d all buy a turbo Mazda CX-5, which is every bit as nice as any of them, and goes for well under 40, fully loaded. If I were in the market for this type of vehicle, that’s the one I’d buy, zero hesitation.

            Meanwhile, Mercedes, BMW and Audi sell tons of turbo-four CUVs with a straight face for ten grand more than the average QX50 goes for. Hell, the Q5 is even Hecho en Mexico, which earns Audi bonus points for balls. People don’t care – they buy them anyway.

            None of these things are great, if we’re being honest. The CX-5 I mentioned before comes closest, and it’s still not as good a driver as a comparably powered sedan.

            But the companies that make them actually tell consumers that the stupid things are out there, waiting to be bought. Infiniti has gone radio-silent with the QX50.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I don’t watch a lot of TV or listen to much AM/FM these days but I’ve seen some QX80 and QX60 ads that seemed on par with the rest of the industry. Do competing brands like Lincoln and Volvo have good advertising? Because those outsell the QX50.

          “with similar engines” “I doubt most consumers would even know what kind of transmission this car has.”

          I haven’t driven one, but it is possible that the VC-T engine sucks. And that is something other brands don’t have. With CVTs, I don’t think normies directly know what a CVT is or have an opinion about it, but if the vehicle’s NVH is poor as a result of that transmission choice then they’ll buy something else.

          “there’s no way the Lexus RX would sell as well as it does.”

          Like I said up above to another commenter I don’t agree with the Lexus comparisons because people buying a Lexus do it for the historical top 3 reliability. That’s their brand. Infiniti doesn’t have that reputation for longevity.

          Make it sporty, make it luxurious, make it super reliable, make it a value (which is different than just “low priced”). There isn’t any single silver bullet, but “this is a Nissan, but more attractive and more expensive” isn’t winning over wallets.

    • 0 avatar
      jack4x

      Great post Mike.

      Good looking, good driving, good priced product will sell itself. There’s no need for a radical reinvention. Look where that strategy has taken Cadillac.

  • avatar
    Varezhka

    I don’t envy the product planners at Infiniti.
    After years of bad management and the failure of their global expansion plans, they’re now basically a US and China only brand on a shoestring budget. Nissan-plus is probably the best they can do (and most of the Infinitis were just that anyways, even back in the 90s).

    I think electrification is still on the table, with the next Q50/Skyline becoming a series-hybrid AWD sedan on an Altima (CMF-C/D) platform last I heard. We’ll see if/when that actually happens.

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    As the sportscaster Jim Rome once said, give it the Ole Yeller treatment – take it out back and blast it.

  • avatar
    tallguy130

    I’m not sure the electrify or die plan is the best path. Mostly because they are late to that party and I don’t think they have the resources or attention span to play that long game. I honestly don’t know if there is a good answer for them at this point. The luxury space is very crowded and only getting more so every year. Making a fairly competent product that is only slightly better than your main brand isn’t enough to justify your existence.

    A large part of that may be because near-luxury is an increasing shallow pool to swim in. The core brands (Chevy, Hyundai, Ford, Honda, etc.) keep offering models and trim levels sporting features that 10 years ago you would only find on a true luxury line. An example would be a Telluride from the upper end of the trim range. How much does that cut into what you get from the near-luxury offerings. I’m sure this group could think of a dozen similar examples.

    Without the badge street cred you get from a true luxury line car I don’t know if the value is there for people to justify so many near-lux brands. My evidence is how well are the “XXXX +” brands doing lately?

    • 0 avatar
      boowiebear

      I agree that electrify or die is not a good strategy for them, not just because they are late, but because I am skeptical the demand is there for so many electric vehicles coming. I loved my G35 back in 2006. I left the brand as I was treated like trash at the dealer when my lease was up. I feel they are circling the drain with Cadillac.

      • 0 avatar
        Gardiner Westbound

        From personal experience, on a good day Infiniti customer care is third rate.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        “I am skeptical the demand is there for so many electric vehicles coming.”

        There isn’t. Even in the event of Peak Oil being realized, say next year, the economic effects will mean only a small percentage of the population will qualify for them at current prices (which would only skyrocket with demand). So if current market share were 3% as is global share per the source below, even if it nearly doubles to 5%, there is a limit based on cost and capacity. Until the “Model T” EV exists -where it retails for under $19,999 and is beloved by all- your true market demand won’t be there.

        Now that I think of it, a pre-2011 Ford Ranger with reasonable range and open bed would probably fit the bill if the costs could be mitigated (*not* the current gigantic Ranger).

        “The IEA estimates electric vehicle sales will account for 3% of global car sales in 2020, surpassing the 2019 record of 2.6%”

        https://www.spglobal.com/marketintelligence/en/news-insights/latest-news-headlines/electric-vehicles-to-set-new-market-share-record-in-2020-59050766

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    I think Ghosn ruined Infiniti. Back in the day, the J30, M45, and Q45 were cool cars with real muscle.
    Now, an Infiniti is just a less-reliable Avalon.

  • avatar
    dwford

    Infiniti was nearly dead once before in the late 90s. Back then the lineup consisted of restyled Nissans and rebadged JDM models. Then the original G35 coupe and sedan came along, and Infiniti has been milking it ever since. 20 years later and maybe it’s time for a new chassis for the luxury brand, but instead all we are getting is warmed over Nissans – again.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Dead brand rolling.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    “Infiniti should work on building excitement and a solid portfolio of upcoming EV models. Create an EV (and electrified) path forward with cars people actually want to buy, and get one on sale as soon as possible. Creating slightly modified versions of the Altima-adjacent things already on sale while avoiding major product updates like a crowded restaurant in The Current Year? That’s not cutting it, and you can do better.”

    Corey while we typically agree, I have to disagree here. The EV segment has been a dead loser for every mfg save Tesla, and Tesla is in no way a normal company as it is simply a product of Clown World. Nissan was already in financial trouble in 2019, for them to set aside billions in R&D to then sell a pittance of product through their at best Tier II luxury brand isn’t going to bring about a favorable return. Lexus -arguably a much more coveted marque- tried to sell a Prius based model and it failed miserably. This is in part has probably influenced Nissan in not releasing a Leaf based Infiniti and instead kick the can with the aged Skyline based platforms while bringing in joint venture platforms more recently (Daimler MFA2 for QX50). Further joint ventures are likely the best path forward for Infiniti, in this way if they could score say a Daimler EV to sell in certain markets under license, they can test your recommendation without spending too much. Starting an expensive EV skunkworks will only bring about a sooner demise for Infiniti.

    • 0 avatar

      “…Daimler MFA2 for QX50”

      This didn’t materialize, though it was the plan, and what Wiki says about the QX50. Infiniti couldn’t afford to keep the JV with Mercedes, which is why the platform development deal ended, the QX30 (a Mercedes) was eliminated, and the QX50 went on some unstated new compact CUV platform developed by Infiniti.

      https://www.automobilemag.com/news/mercedes-benz-infiniti-not-sharing-small-car-platforms-future-report/#:~:text=Autocar%20reports%20that%20Infiniti%20has,QX50's%20new%20VC%2DT%20powertrain.&text=%22The%20QX50%20has%20a%20unique,brand%20separation%2C%22%20he%20said.

      Infiniti claimed it was because the VC-T engine didn’t fit at the time.

      https://www.autoweek.com/news/a1812151/infiniti-halts-model-development-daimler-report-says/

      What it actually was, was Infiniti’s sales were too poor for them to keep up their end of the bargain.

      Does this change your thought on future JVs?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      @Corey

      No it does not because for smaller marques like Infiniti, cost sharing allows them to take more risk for less money. Now will anyone *want* to partner with them if they can’t move the metal (or even pay for their side of it)? Whole other question.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m trying to think who’d even want to bother with them. Who *needs* to save money on development, and is okay having consumers know their car is a JV with Nissan?

        I think Mercedes only played ball because they have their own lineup already, and this was for compact, piddly type stuff that doesn’t go for big money.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I would think in uncertain times, all companies need to save money where they can.

          “consumers know their car is a JV with Nissan”

          What percentage of buyers are aware of these sort of things? 5%? 10%? The first Buick Encore screamed Daewoo through and though while offering sluggish power but the proles ate them up much to our chagrin.

          You may be right on Mercedes’ motivations. One firm I can think of who may want to split development costs with Nissan/Infiniti may be Cialis, err Stellantis.

          • 0 avatar

            Stellantis is gonna be morphing here shortly once Peugeot gets in there and shakes it up. They’ve got a broad range of CUV product, which is already luxurious in DS form.

            We shall have Peugeot vehicles once more. I’m sure everything they make now is as robust as the 505.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Interesting, will be looking for this.

  • avatar
    Ol Shel

    I was ready to buy one until I learned that the key’s design hasn’t changed since 2006.

  • avatar
    tane94

    Infiniti should hire New York Joe and hasten its demise. Infiniti has lost its identity — is it sport, luxury, fish or fowl? Acura likewise lost its identity but it is trying to restore its sporty driving persona. I don’t believe Nissan drivers aspire to one day move up and own an Infiniti. It’s a brand that could disappear tomorrow and few would notice aside from auto scribes.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      Acura is being stupid enough to put their new 3.0T V6 in the new TLX, and not offering it with all boxes checked! No keyfob remote-start, no fog lights, IIRC!

      To get the full-boat, all-options Advanced-package car, you have to take the 2.0T! At that point, just pony-up for an Accord Touring, which includes all the missing features, and pocket the difference!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Acura is Bernie (as in the “weekend at”) and Honda plays the role of Andrew McCarthy and Jonathan Silverman. The fact HMC isn’t even interested in offering basic “luxury” features is simply further evidence.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      JdN gets a bad rap, but it’s not his fault that both Ghosn and Mark Reuss/GM’S board didn’t want to properly invest in their respective luxury brands (most of Cadillac’s travails for the past decade or so can directly be attributed to Reuss and he ends up getting promoted).

      And oh, the decision to move Cadillac’s HQ to Manhattan was made before JdN joined Cadillac.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    For a long while Infiniti quality paled in comparison to Lexus. Then Lexus dropped the ball and their cars seemed cheaply made compared to earlier days. Genesis is sneaking up with an SUV that is far more attractive than Lexus or Infiniti’s offerings – and it’s only a matter of time before they match them in quality and reliability, if they haven’t already. As far as the Germans go, they are unassailable to the Japanese and Koreans, as their customers will tolerate any abuses in the repair shop to have that badge. Infiniti needs a critical rethink as described here and Lexus needs to quit being smug about competing with the Germans and watch out for Genesis.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Imagefont: As I recall, Ford vehicles built during the “quality is job one” era were some of the worst Ford vehicles...
  • Lou_BC: Too funny
  • ToolGuy: Extra credit – count the ‘Automotive’ references and implications in this article:...
  • ToolGuy: “I got a question. If you guys know so much about women, how come you’re here at like… the...
  • conundrum: Forget the Mach-E. New F150s are piling up in lots around Detroit, as the Autoextremist pointed out on Jan...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber