Infiniti plans to go all hybrid-electric by 2025; aims at millennial consumers

In the next 10 years, 40 percent of all new vehicles will be sold to millennials.

Agencies
(Image: www.infinitiusa.com)
By Hannah Elliott

Lately, it seems, Infiniti can’t catch a break.

Sales slumped last year to 149,280 vehicles in the U.S., down 2.7 percent from 2017. The automaker’s QX30—a small crossover that should be capitalizing on the unfettered thirst Americans have for compact SUVs—hit just 8,101 units in the U.S., down nearly 43 percent from 2017. The larger QX50 was one the worst cars I drove last year. Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive officer of parent company Nissan Motor Co., has sat in jail in Tokyo since November on charges of financial crimes.


At the Detroit auto show on Monday, Infiniti’s futuristic electric crossover concept, the QX, refused to pull forward onto the stage on cue as its designer continued through his scripted presentation.

So, what gives?

Christian Meunier, the new president of Infiniti, puts it bluntly during an interview earlier this week with Bloomberg News.
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“Infiniti, for a lot of reasons, has been very much middle-of-the-road for many, many years and has tried to do too many things and tried to compete head-to-head with everyone—all the premium brands, including the Germans,” says the Paris-born executive.

His comments ring true. Models such as the Q60 and Q70 sedans have struggled to gain footholds against the better-engineered, more striking offerings from BMW, Mercedes, and Porsche, which are selling twice as many vehicles in a single month—and at higher prices.

Cadillac EV SUV, Nissan IMs: Electric Vehicles A Rage At Detroit Auto Show
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The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), also known as the Detroit Auto Show, is the year's first for automobile manufacturers and enthusiasts. This year's show is even more important because this is the last time that the event is taking place in January. In the year 2020, it is scheduled to take place in June because Detroit's cold weather does not let carmakers show-off the beauties in the open. Although electric vehicles are not a big draw at the NAIAS, this year Detroit saw some showcases from big names. Here are a few of them:

(In Pic: Top left: Cadillac EV SUV, top right: Nissan logo, bottom left: Cadillac logo, bottom right: Nisan IMs)

The North American International Auto Show (NAIAS), also known as the Detroit Auto Show, is the year's first for automobile manufacturers and enthusiasts. This year's show is even more important be..
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This is actually the first affordable all-electric car. It can go up to 238 miles of electric range on a full charge. The vehicle is equipped with a 10.2-inch diagonal colour touch-screen. The car requires less maintenance than a gas vehicle. The vehicle has a fast charging option too, which offers about 90 miles in around 30 minutes of charge time.

This is actually the first affordable all-electric car. It can go up to 238 miles of electric range on a full charge. The vehicle is equipped with a 10.2-inch diagonal colour touch-screen. The car re..
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Cadillac revealed the platform of the car which is capable of front, rear, and an all-wheel drive. The car which is a 5-passenger electric Cadillac, will have a range of more than 300 miles. The surprise element is probably a square steering wheel which will fold into the dashboard.

Cadillac revealed the platform of the car which is capable of front, rear, and an all-wheel drive. The car which is a 5-passenger electric Cadillac, will have a range of more than 300 miles. The surp..
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The IMs concept by Nissan has been described by the company as an elevated sports sedan. The vehicle is a pure electric, all-wheel concept with fully autonomous drive capabilities too. The car has a svelte look with smooth lines. Although, the car doesn't have a conventional grille, the Japanese carmaker has managed to put in their trademark V-shaped front end with the help of the headlights. A thin strip of LED lighting span the tail at the back.

The IMs concept by Nissan has been described by the company as an elevated sports sedan. The vehicle is a pure electric, all-wheel concept with fully autonomous drive capabilities too. The car has a ..
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The all-electric SUV is 183 inches long, rides on 22-inch massive wheels, does not have the conventional front grille, has smooth surfaces and an illuminated Infiniti logo. The QX Inspiration features a battery pack stored below the floor which feeds two electric motors, one for each axle.The dashboard is dominated by a large screen.

The all-electric SUV is 183 inches long, rides on 22-inch massive wheels, does not have the conventional front grille, has smooth surfaces and an illuminated Infiniti logo. The QX Inspiration feature..
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This beauty from Kia has a range of 236 miles which it gets from the 64 kilowatt-hour battery. The car is powered by an electric motor which is rated at 201 horsepower. The vehicle offers Level Two autonomous driving technology which means that the acceleration, brakes and steering can be controlled depending upon the conditions.

This beauty from Kia has a range of 236 miles which it gets from the 64 kilowatt-hour battery. The car is powered by an electric motor which is rated at 201 horsepower. The vehicle offers Level Two a..
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As the Japanese automaker tries to distance itself from the high-profile arrest of their star executive Carlos Ghosn, they showcased a new and improved version of their electric car Leaf. The car has faster acceleration, more torque, offers a range of 285 miles per charge.

As the Japanese automaker tries to distance itself from the high-profile arrest of their star executive Carlos Ghosn, they showcased a new and improved version of their electric car Leaf. The car has..
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Infiniti falls into the dangerous luxury-lite category that is first to take a hit when consumer confidence falters, according to Charles Chesbrough, senior economist at Cox Automotive, a research and analysis firm that owns Kelley Blue Book and AutoTrader. There’s a surplus of used luxury vehicles at the moment. When given the choice between a lightly used luxury car or a vehicle from a premium brand such as Infiniti, consumers will prefer the used version.

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“Gently used vehicles are taking away some consumers who could potentially buy new vehicles,” Chesbrough tells Bloomberg in Detroit. “Consumers are looking for cost savings, and they want to get the products that they really want.”

According to Meunier, Infiniti shouldn’t be competing against luxury brands, anyway. “We don’t want to be the No. 1 brand, we want to be the No. 1 challenging brand,” he says. “We can’t be the car for everyone. We don’t need 50 different models like the Germans. We need the ones that will give us the edge in the market place.”

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The right cars, Meunier believes, will be electric. Infiniti has already produced a few concepts, including the Prototype 10 and the QX that stalled in Detroit. But the company is years behind luxury brands such as Tesla (Model S and Model X), Audi (E-Tron), Jaguar (I-Pace) and Porsche (Taycan), all of which have already launched electric vehicles or will do so this year.

“The purpose for the next two to three years is not to grow,” Meunier says. “It’s to consolidate and to prepare for the launch of all these cars. It’s to get ready for electrification.” By 2025, the company plans to sell only vehicles with electric or hybrid-electric powertrains. If all goes as planned, the first batch will roll off the line by 2021.

That will be a significant increase since early 2018. At the time, company executives said that only half of their global sales would come from electrified vehicles by 2025.

Infiniti hopes to sell its new EVs to a new generation of buyers. In the next 10 years, 40 percent of all new vehicles will be sold to millennials, according to AutoTrader data. The generation is less loyal to heritage brands than were their predecessors.

“They want experience, and they want technology,” Meunier says. “They want to feel different. They want a product that makes them better as a person. Infiniti has a big role to play there.”
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