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Infiniti Doesn't Want To Talk About Profitability

Infiniti Q60 Red Sport (with sad chart hat)
Infiniti Q60 Red Sport (with sad chart hat)
Photo: Infiniti

Infiniti’s new chairman of just a couple of weeks, Peyman Kargar, has given his first interview where he says he has a plan to make Infiniti “sustainable” if not profitable—a tall order since it got creamed last year. Being chairman of Infiniti is probably an impossible job, if we’re being honest.

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The interview is with Automotive News, which got few concrete details but lots of optimism out of Kargar, who is Nissan’s fifth chairman in less than two years. Perhaps most surprising is that Infiniti won’t be impacted by Nissan’s plan to cut costs, even though Infiniti has a reputation for losing money for Nissan. That’s despite the fact that automakers allegedly make a lot more money on luxury cars than they do on the peasant Versas of the world.

From the interview:

To what degree will Infiniti be hit by the cost cutting and downsizing in Nissan’s new midterm plan?

Infiniti has not been mentioned because we are not going to shrink or reduce the lineup of Infiniti. We have a huge customer satisfaction asset already in place. We are at the top of the list in terms of customer satisfaction. That’s a big asset, and we need to protect it.

Also, we have dealers who are fully committed to the brand. I have started to get in contact with them. I had a nice call this morning with U.S. dealers. I’m meeting with them, and I’m listening to them.

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Given Infiniti’s recent track record of declining sales and a product line that is duller than dirt—not that much different than Nissan, really—you would think entrusting it with same levels of investment and expecting different results would be a form of insanity.

Still, Kargar says Infiniti will charge ahead, with a plan to save money by developing a shared platform with Nissan and a plan to use those savings to double down on luxury, with better infotainment and better interiors. That is the plan, at least, in addition to “much more” horsepower and an EV. Here’s what’s coming in the near-term future:

Infiniti will begin to deliver that this year with the introduction of the QX55 coupe-styled crossover. Then, the real turning point comes in 2021 with the launch of a redesigned QX60 midsize crossover and its Nissan brand stablemate, the Pathfinder. The vehicles share the same underpinnings, and their introductions will be the first test of whether the “Nissan-plus” strategy can commonize more components while imbuing each brand with its own distinct identity.

Whether this has any shot of working is anyone’s guess, just don’t ask Kargar about Infiniti’s current profitability. He doesn’t want to talk about it!

For a long time, Infiniti wasn’t a profitable business within Nissan. Has that changed?

We don’t normally talk about the profitability of each brand. It depends how you spread the fixed cost of the company on the different models.

News Editor at Jalopnik. 2008 Honda Fit Sport.

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DISCUSSION

There are any given number of arguments here to make against Infinity. The retarded alphabet soup naming convention of letters and numbers that just makes them seem like they’re ripping-off German cars and cannot stand on their own merrits. The terrible reputation of Nissan’s bland styling, and terrible engineering from CVTs. The list could go on. But the biggest problem here is this:

Infinity is the Harley-Davidson of car makers.

Their main demographic are old baby boomers who don’t like change in any form. Styling, performance, technology, etc. So Infinity is just going to keep cranking out the same milquetoast appliances they always have. And as boomers age out, the sales are going to plummet because no younger buyers are there lining up to take their place.

If Infinity wants to change, they need to firstly ignore their dealers. Sales people just want what they can sell today, not caring about tomorrow. When tomorrow comes and there are no buyers, the dealerships will just switch to Kias. Make the move now to create cars that young buyers want. Even if the youth cannot afford them, the elderly who still want to pretend they’re young will buy the cars for that youth association. Otherwise, Infinity is now, and will continue to be an old man’s car.