Should Infiniti Die? A Brief History of Nissan's Premium Brand

May 25, 2020

Infiniti has served as Nissan's Premium brand for over 30 years, but has the time come for the Japanese automaker to call it quits? We go over Infiniti's North American sales information from 2016-2019 and our thoughts on the future of the Infiniti brand.

 

Our episode starts off with a recap of Infiniti's 2019 sales information for US and Canada. We jump into the history of the brand and what was going on with competing manufacturers in the mid to late 90s. Acura was the first major Japanese premium brand to launch in North America in 1986 with the 1986 Acura Legend Sedan & Coupé and 1986 Acura Integra Sedan & Coupé. Lexus announced their 1990 LS 400 and 1990 ES 300 in January 1989, quickly followed by Infiniti's dual-vehicle launch of the 1990 Infiniti Q45t full-size luxury sedan, and the 1990 Infiniti M30 luxury coupé.

 

We go over the specifications and details of the Q45 and M30 and how they compared to some of the luxury vehicle available at the time. Infiniti continued with their roll out into the 90s with vehicles like the G20, I30, and J30, finishing off the late 90s with their first SUV, the Pathfinder-based QX4 mid-size luxury SUV. We discuss the first time Infiniti faced closure in 2003, followed by their decision to look at renaming their vehicle lineup to become more consistent in the industry after being close to death.

 

Our brief history on Infiniti covers the vehicles they launched over the course of their 30 years of operation and how they impacted the market. Sales information released by Infiniti gives us a look at what the future might hold for the brand, with the previous three years of sales in the decline. Infiniti has also axed a number of vehicles from their lineup like the Q70/Q70L which was the direct successor to the original Q45, the QX70 mid-size crossover, and the Mercedes-Benz badge-engineered QX30.

 

We analyze the sales trends and lineup reduction and how it might work for the brand moving forward. We then give two scenarios for the future of the Infiniti brand. Our thoughts on what we would do in the position of power at Infiniti by focusing on a single vision for their brand, reinventing themselves towards electrification and performance. Updating seriously aged vehicles in their lineup and ensuring luxury features and technology are the focus.

 

Recent sales data from Acura and Lexus show us that buyers are willing to pay for Japanese luxury vehicles if the offerings are worthwhile. Our second scenario involves closing down the Infiniti brand globally and focusing on Nissan. While we don't go into specific detail about the Nissan side of the business, expanding electric technology leaned from the Leaf along with re-naming the Infiniti Q50S as the Nissan Skyline are some suggestions we make in our wrap up.

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