Launched in 1990, Infiniti was expected to be Japan's answer to BMW (Lexus would end up chasing Mercedes-Benz). Yet things went awry almost right out of the gate. Overlooking the fledgling automaker's now infamous early marketing campaign, its product line over the past twenty-four years has been a roller coaster ride of strong hits (Q45, FX35 and G35) and frustrating misses (M30, I30 and QX4).

In a recent interview with Ward's Auto at the Detroit Auto Show, Nissan Executive Vice President Andy Palmer revealed that the company's luxury brand was almost cancelled by CEO Carlos Ghosn as unnecessary. Infiniti, like most premium marques owned by a volume manufacturer, had fallen into the trap of losing autonomy and pushing its high-end product just like its mainstream models.

The one obvious exception to this industry blunder, said Palmer, was VW Group's Audi brand. Realizing that Audi's impressive comeback over the past two decades shamed even that of actor Robert Downey Jr., Nissan hired Audi veteran Johan de Nysschen to bring Infiniti to its intended glory – and protect it from extinction. Check out the complete interview here.


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  • 93 Comments
      SideWayz8
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have no clue what Infiniti's future is going to be, but it seem they are hit and miss. You can't have hits like the G35/G37 and FX35 and follow that up with their redesigns (2010+ FX) and including the redundant EX. The luxury market is very competitive and the newer FX's and EX and M's have fell behind in their respective classes.
      Sanchez
      • 2 Years Ago
      The brand always sold decent enough volume in the US and has seen remarkable growth in the last ten to eleven years, starting with the G35 Sedan, then Coupe. Ultimately, it wasn't killed because of the potential volume loss (~100K units in the US). The reason killing it was considered is because almost all of Nissan's global leadership is European and, until 'owning' the brand, knew absolutely nothing about Infiniti. Worse, they've watched its very recent failure to launch in Europe, primary due to only offering big, expensive, tax-heavy V6 and V8 engines, which are not volume offerings there.
        chanonissan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sanchez
        you total hit the nail on the head , that is it, no one knew it outside the USA , the question is thou, why it took them so long to introduce it to other markets, that is why I think the former boss should be blame.
      Myself
      • 2 Years Ago
      Years ago, I was surprised that what Nissan sold in Europe as pretty standard Nissans, ran under Infiniti brand that was supposed to take on luxury brands. Now, late 90s Nissan Primera was an excellent car, it was a great driver's car, incredibly reliable and everything, but it lacked in luxurious deparment, so how it could compete with pretentious luxusy when branded as Infiniti?
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        chanonissan
        • 2 Years Ago
        Why should they kill it?, the G35 and G37 have made a come back for them and proven to be good cars. The only thing I would agree is that the former boss of infiniti should be fired, how come they never expand it to other markets, while lexus was enjoying worldwide market share. One of infiniti main problem is they where too much focus on the USA market, they realise that now,now they are expanding worldwide, Lexus is world wide known to most countries, infiniti just arriving on the scene.
        Mbukukanyau
        • 2 Years Ago
        I know, just let them drive a Lexus, oh no, corolla
      NightFlight
      • 2 Years Ago
      Does anyone else realize how stupid it is for Palmer to have revealed this? It does NOT inspire any confidence in the brand, and it is shocking that they made this public knowledge. I know that Infiniti has spent a lot of resources and money trying to revive the brand, but it doesn't help them win over any customers with the knowledge that they can just kill it at any time. With this new naming structure coming out, I feel as if it is going to confuse customers and further hurt sales. They have come a long way since the rebadged Maxima, Primera, and Pathfinder though. The new G37 (or whatever the hell it is going to be) looks promising, but the M37/56 have proven to be a sales flop.
        michigan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @NightFlight
        Why so quick to believe this story is true?
        chanonissan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @NightFlight
        @nihtflight you want to claim lexus was superior in every way, but I want to point out to you that in IIHS claim 2002, 2003, 2004 lexus was safer than the infinti G35, and in 2007 have to change their mouth singing a different tune that in real life accidents the infiniti G35 was the second safest car in america.
      rmkensington
      • 2 Years Ago
      They have 0 identity. BMW has the rwd sporting heritage and kidney grills. People can easily identify them. Inifiniti has nothing to remember them by. I hear the name Infiniti and the first thing that comes to mind was those weird boxey suv's that are on craiglist for $2000.
      carfan
      • 2 Years Ago
      they almost killed it because at that time nobody could forsee that there would be enough idiots in the USA who would actually consider buying this low qaulity datsun...but surprisingly enough they found out that despite the fact that Europeans would not buy such POS, americans in coparison are stupid enough to do, so they went ahead with it...Carlos Ghosn told me this story over a shot of caipirinha
      alistair.dillingham
      • 2 Years Ago
      In fact, it SHOULD have killed the loser division decades ago. I bet they don't make a dime off it anyway.
        chanonissan
        • 2 Years Ago
        @alistair.dillingham
        from 98 thousand to 119 thousand in sales, they are a loser? Explain your self. elaborate please.
      ROLO
      • 2 Years Ago
      I remember in the 90s i went to a service center with my cousin and they were changing the logos on a Nissan to upgrade it to an infinity model trim at the dealer. They have come a long way lol.
        audisp0rta4
        • 2 Years Ago
        @ROLO
        Hmmm...I guess they were also swapping out trim pieces, body panels, steering wheel covers, engine covers, ECUs, TCUs, various suspension components, wheels, pretty much complete interiors and convenience features. Either that, or you're stupider than you sound.
      Oscar Zamora
      • 2 Years Ago
      Q45 a hit? Are you kidding me?
        M-M
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Oscar Zamora
        I'm scratching my head at that one too. I believe they were only selling around 1,000/yr near the end.
        Michael Harley
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Oscar Zamora
        The original Q45 was spectacular at its time when compared to what else was on the market, as was the 2003 G35 a decade ago. - Mike
        Dwight Bynum Jr.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Oscar Zamora
        Yes. The first gen Q45 was QUITE a hit. It wasn't until the second generation that it started to lose its luster...
        Greg
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Oscar Zamora
        The Q45 was under appreciated. It was always class competitive with cars like the Lexus LS. Only after the 2006 Infiniti M was the Q45 made irrelevant.
      carguy1701
      • 2 Years Ago
      The I30 was only a miss in that it wasn't exciting. It was a decent competitor to the ES.
      throwback
      • 2 Years Ago
      Most of these luxury makers mention Audi as the model. They need to remember it took Audi 30+ years to get where they are now. Think back to 1982 (for those of you old enough) to say Audi was an also ran would be an understatement. Lincoln was handily outselling them, yes LINCOLN. To get where Audi is now takes focus, billions of dollars, and a long term commitment. Infiniti seems to have it with the hiring of de Nysschen. Does caddy and Lincoln have that commitment?
        adam1keith1980
        • 2 Years Ago
        @throwback
        I know I am getting a little off topic. A lot of "lazy" manufacturers who don't want to invest in RWD, such as Acura and Lincoln, refer to Audi as an example of success. Except they overlook that Audi has legitimate performance models, beautiful designs, and FWD cars with RWD proportions.
          GT2000
          • 2 Years Ago
          @adam1keith1980
          So tell us how a FWD Audi with a CVT even is going to have RWD bias?
          carguy1701
          • 2 Years Ago
          @adam1keith1980
          Exactly. Using front-biased AWD isn't going to cut it against the larger Audi's, which all have rear-biased AWD.
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