Running a luxury brand used to be simple. Tart up a few mass-market sedans with leather interiors and power accessories, slap on a big hood ornament, jack the price through the roof, then sit back and watch the gravy train flow. These days it couldn't be more different. You need dedicated luxury platforms and halo cars and marketing tie-ins. And if you really want to be taken seriously among the cognoscenti, you need an in-house performance tuner to craft your own AMG or M-series line of cars.
Which brings us to Infiniti, the formerly North American-only luxury brand. It has been going toe-to-toe with Mercedes and BMW in some product segments for years, but with aspirations of competing with the big two luxury marques globally, it needs to put some muscle behind its nascent Infiniti Performance Line brand. So that 414-horsepower Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel Version you saw at Frankfurt? Yep, it's coming, according to an interview with Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer on the company's corporate blog. And although it won't necessarily be branded an IPL car, Palmer says the Vettel FX will serve as a pilot, to prove that Infiniti can sell "low-volume, very special versions, and be able to charge a premium."
Vettel took his second straight Formula 1 title with a victory in Japan this weekend, and Infiniti might as well capitalize on its marketing partnership with Red Bull Racing. You don't spend upwards of $10 million on a racing deal if you're not going to use it to sell cars. Of course, Vettel is hardly a celebrity in the U.S., so we'll have to wait to hear some official word about North American plans. "Right now," Nissan PR told us, "it is still simply a concept."
Watch the entire interview with Palmer after the jump.