Infiniti could be downgraded to ‘Nissan-plus’ due to falling sales
Nissan’s four-year recovery plan doesn’t look promising for its luxury brand
Battered by falling sales and high costs, Nissan is embarking on a plan to cut production — which could include downgrading its luxury Infiniti brand to something closer to “Nissan-plus.”
That’s from a report by Automotive News, which spoke with Ashwani Gupta, Nissan’s chief operating officer, in early June after Nissan unveiled a new four-year plan the automaker hopes will result in financial stability and profitability by 2023.
Gupta told the magazine the company will “bring back Infiniti as ‘Nissan-plus’, in terms of product and technology,” which could involve dropping Infiniti’s rear-wheel-drive models and replacing them with vehicles built on Nissan’s front-wheel platforms.
Nissan has been working on an electric all-wheel-drive system and has all but confirmed it will put its Ariya concept electric crossover into production. While nothing is set in stone, according to Automotive News, Gupta said Infiniti could equip its battery-powered vehicles with a higher-performance version of Nissan’s electric powertrain. The first Infiniti vehicles under the new plan would be unveiled by 2023.
Under its four-year plan, Nissan will reduce its global production capacity by 20 per cent, to 5.4 million vehicles per year; drop the number of its global nameplates from 69 to fewer than 55 models; and reduce its fixed costs by US$2.78 billion. It intends to focus on C and D segment cars – midsize and large – along with electric vehicles and sports cars, and will concentrate most of its core products in Japan, China, and North America.
It will also continue to sell vehicles in South America, Europe and Southeast Asia, but will leave South Korea and Russia.
Ousted chief Carlos Ghosn had fast-tracked Nissan on expansion, including moving into new markets, offering commercial vehicles, and bringing back the Datsun nameplate in some markets. He thought Infiniti could sell 500,000 vehicles a year globally, grabbing up to 10 per cent of the world’s luxury market. In 2018, its best year, Infiniti sold 249,000 vehicles, and dropped to 188,944 in 2019.
In Canada, Infiniti sold only 10,974 vehicles in 2019. In the same period, Lexus sold 25,540 vehicles, while Acura sold 19,781.
In 2010, Ghosn set up a deal with the Renault-Nissan Alliance and Daimler that included each taking a small share of the other, along with platform sharing and manufacturing, and it’s believed that relationship will continue. The two built a shared plant in Mexico that makes the Infiniti QX50. Other Infiniti models are made at plants in Japan, China, and in Smyrna, Tennessee.