Last night, Infiniti announced that in 2014, every single car they make will start with the letter 'Q.' The M35 becomes the Q70. The FX35 becomes the QX70.
If you followed auto journalists on Twitter, you'd have thought that the world was actually ending. "Infiniti is stupid!" "Infiniti is throwing down years of brand recognition!" "This is confusing!" Except it isn't stupid or confusing. Here's why.
Since Infiniti has been in existence, it has been searching for an identity. In my opinion, they've never really found one. Cars like the G37 go after BMW while an EX37 goes after Lexus. They don't have a cohesive brand strategy.
But now Nissan has placed former Audi man Johan De Nysschen at the helm, and he knows where he wants the company to compete: He wants them to take down his former employer. If you think about it, Audi — and Volvo — name their cars in the same way that Infiniti is about to do. It doesn't confuse those buyers or customers, at all.
"But what about the cachet that Infiniti has in the G-series name plate?"
What cachet? It's not a name like Taurus, Accord, 911, or really any other car on the road. G has been around in its current, performance guise for about a decade. That's the blink of an eye.
In the automotive press, we tend to think that names have power. And they do, amongst journalists and enthusiasts. But G37, M37, and QX56 mean jack shit to Harvey B. Carbuyer. In fact, it probably confuses the hell out of them.
Instead, Infiniti is simplifying everything for it's base, the people that will buy their cars. It's smart. Want a midsize Infiniti sedan? Q70. Want a small one? Q50. Want a medium sized crossover? QX70.
That's far better than Acura's naming strategy. The MDX is an SUV, but the RLX and ILX are sedans. What is the X there for? Not all of these cars are all wheel drive. Infiniti will have a letter or two and then two numbers to describe the size. It's simple and direct, I like that.
Last night, I was one of the skeptics and thought this was a terrible idea. But then I realized that Infiniti has only had one iconic car in its entire history.
That car? The Q45. That's a letter that might still have some resonance with potential customers. It's worth a shot. Good for Infiniti for actually trying something.