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    William Maley

    Afterthoughts: The Infiniti Identity

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      What is the identity of Infiniti?

    For the past week, I have been driving an Infiniti Q50 and for the most part, I have liked it. The model has the makings of an excellent compact luxury car with a powerful V6, expressive exterior, and a nice balance of sport and comfort for the ride. I don't even mind the direct-steer system which replaces many of the mechanical parts for an electrical system that turns the wheel based signals from the input on the wheel. But as I driving the Q50, I felt something was missing. It was only when I writing some notes on it that I figured out what was missing, an identity. Not only for the car, but for Infiniti itself.

     

    In psychology, identity is used to describe the items that make a person unique. Our little things and quirks that make us who are. For automakers, figuring out what they want to their identity to be is a crucial piece. Not only does it bring people into your showroom, but it also gives you a selling point. Something you can draw on in your promotions to the final sale.

     

    This is a key part for luxury automakers since identity is one of the main selling points. A luxury car is seen as a statement of identity - this is who I am and this is why I drive this car.

     

    For many luxury automakers, figuring out their identity is easy. Just off the top of my head, I was able to put an identity for most of the luxury players.

    • Audi: Modern Design
    • BMW: Driving
    • Mercedes-Benz: Quality
    • Jaguar: Luxury and Sport
    • Cadillac: The American BMW
    • Lincoln: American Luxury


    Trying to define the Japanese luxury automakers has and is still an issue. Lexus is the only one that you could say has an identity - luxury with reliability. Acura is hedging their bets on technology. But Infiniti hasn't been able to come with something they could say 'this is our identity'.

     


    Consider when Nissan was launching the brand back in 1989 to 1990. The first commercials showed forests and birds, but nothing about the car. It was hard to tell if Infiniti was a car or a nature preserve. Infiniti did change this with later ads, but there wasn't that hook. Something that could say 'I bought an Infiniti for this reason'.

     

    Now it seemed Infiniti was possibly going in the right direction when they brought on Johan de Nysschen back in 2012 to help get the company going in the right direction. Aside from the 'Q' nomenclature, de Nysschen brought a number of changes to the automaker; moving the headquarters to from Yokohama, Japan to Hong Kong; partnering with the Red Bull F1 racing team, setting up a number of studios around the globe, and creating the wild Q50 Eau Rouge which was rumored to go into production. It seemed that company was going in the right direction for creating an identity.

     

    Then in 2014, de Nysschen left to take on another automaker - Cadillac. Since then, plans for a high-performance Q50 has been shelved and it seems Infiniti is lost, wondering what their next move should. This isn't a good thing when it seems every other luxury competitor is passing you by.

     

    With two new models over the horizon - the Q30 and QX30 - Infiniti should take some time out and figure out who they are. Then they might have a real chance to make a stand in the marketplace.

     

    Maybe for some inspiration, they could watch this commercial for the J30 sedan.

     


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    The thing is, pulling stunts does nothing to increase identity... and that's what the Eau Rouge, the Hong Kong move, and the Redbull team felt like... stunts.  None of it does anything to help forge an identity.... they may increase awareness, they may help image... but neither of these things are identity.  

     

    There was no commitment from Infiniti to follow through.  Does anyone remember the IPL trim?  It stood for Infiniti Performance something something.... it was a specially tuned VQ V6 that got you a massive 18 additional horsepower. You can only get the IPL option on the Q60 convertible for roughly $13k over the base convertible...   Infiniti sold 5. 

     

    Quick, what's the most identifiable Infiniti currently built.... remember you can't say G-series anymore.  The reality is that the next plausible answer is the badge engineered Infiniti Pathfinder..... I don't know the real name and can't be bothered to look it up.   That's the level of identity Infiniti has right now.... a semi-lux 4-door mini-van used primarily by real-estate ladies that no one can remember the name of and just refers to it by the Nissan equivalent name. 

     

    And that's a problem for Infiniti....

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    Infinity problem starts with the name, there is nothing here to last for ever. They really do need a new reboot of name, badging, design language, etc.

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    Quick, what's the most identifiable Infiniti currently built.... remember you can't say G-series anymore.  The reality is that the next plausible answer is the badge engineered Infiniti Pathfinder..... I don't know the real name and can't be bothered to look it up.   That's the level of identity Infiniti has right now.... a semi-lux 4-door mini-van used primarily by real-estate ladies that no one can remember the name of and just refers to it by the Nissan equivalent name. 

     

    And that's a problem for Infiniti....

     

    I don't even think the QX60 is the most recognizable model (no, I didn't look that up. I saw one today). I think that honor falls to the QX80 (formally known as the QX56) because of its odd styling.

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    Quick, what's the most identifiable Infiniti currently built.... remember you can't say G-series anymore.  The reality is that the next plausible answer is the badge engineered Infiniti Pathfinder..... I don't know the real name and can't be bothered to look it up.   That's the level of identity Infiniti has right now.... a semi-lux 4-door mini-van used primarily by real-estate ladies that no one can remember the name of and just refers to it by the Nissan equivalent name. 

     

    And that's a problem for Infiniti....

     

    I don't even think the QX60 is the most recognizable model (no, I didn't look that up. I saw one today). I think that honor falls to the QX80 (formally known as the QX56) because of its odd styling.

     

     

    I was referring more to what model comes to mind that is currently being built.  

     

    Say BMW and people will reply 3-series or 5-series

    Say Mercedes and people will reply S-Class.

    Say Audi and people will reply A4 or TT. 

    Say Cadillac and people will reply Escalade.

    Even say Lincoln and people will reply Navigator.

     

    "Oh, that Infiniti version of the Pathfinder" and "That big ugly SUV, QX something" aren't exactly ringing endorsements of brand identity.

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    Johan did nothing for Infiniti, changing names was a mistake, G37 was all they had.  It would be like Cadillac dropping Escalade for XT8. 

     

    Infiniti has no soul, no identity, their SUVs are just Nissans, they mostly just have that V6, which now everyone has a good V6.  They had that 420 hp V8 a few years back, haven't done anything with it since, the styling is boring and bland.  How hard is it to turbo an engine?  Turbo the VQ V6 and put 2 turbos on that V8.  Also no halo car, no flagship car, 1 hybrid that no one buys.  Poor product planning, no clear brand image, inconsistent marketing all left them drifting aimlessly.  And Johan is bringing that expertise to Cadillac, let's see if he learned anything.

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    Johan did nothing for Infiniti, changing names was a mistake, G37 was all they had.  It would be like Cadillac dropping Escalade for XT8. 

     

    Infiniti has no soul, no identity, their SUVs are just Nissans, they mostly just have that V6, which now everyone has a good V6.  They had that 420 hp V8 a few years back, haven't done anything with it since, the styling is boring and bland.  How hard is it to turbo an engine?  Turbo the VQ V6 and put 2 turbos on that V8.  Also no halo car, no flagship car, 1 hybrid that no one buys.  Poor product planning, no clear brand image, inconsistent marketing all left them drifting aimlessly.  And Johan is bringing that expertise to Cadillac, let's see if he learned anything.

    Plus keep in mind that Japan is all about being a team player and not rocking the boat. Most employees would go along with their boss who says this is awesome, the best, etc. I doubt anyone was willing to rock the boat and go against the upper executives who seem to be fine with the style, name, ultra conservative blah style of forgettable auto's.

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    Speaking of Infinitis, my next door neighbor had a deep maroon '13 QX56 for the last two years, it disspeared a month ago or so, replaced by a '15 Cadillac Escalade ESV...which disappeared after 2 weeks and now he's got a black QX80.  

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    Speaking of Infinitis, my next door neighbor had a deep maroon '13 QX56 for the last two years, it disspeared a month ago or so, replaced by a '15 Cadillac Escalade ESV...which disappeared after 2 weeks and now he's got a black QX80.  

    WOW, he must like bland non inspiring autos. :puke:

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    Speaking of Infinitis, my next door neighbor had a deep maroon '13 QX56 for the last two years, it disspeared a month ago or so, replaced by a '15 Cadillac Escalade ESV...which disappeared after 2 weeks and now he's got a black QX80.  

    WOW, he must like bland non inspiring autos. :puke:

     

    His fiancee has a Toyota Sequoia for hauling their kids..I think the Escalade may be his wife's car.    (He has two houses in the neighborhood, he can't divorce his wife as she is the co-owner of his business).

    Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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    Speaking of Infinitis, my next door neighbor had a deep maroon '13 QX56 for the last two years, it disspeared a month ago or so, replaced by a '15 Cadillac Escalade ESV...which disappeared after 2 weeks and now he's got a black QX80.  

    WOW, he must like bland non inspiring autos. :puke:

     

    His fiancee has a Toyota Sequoia for hauling their kids..I think the Escalade may be his wife's car.    (He has two houses in the neighborhood, he can't divorce his wife as she is the co-owner of his business).

     

    WOW, so lives with new girl and still married to wife due to business? Interesting life.

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    I have never understood the motivation to distill an automotive brand down to 2 words. Why box oneself in? And besides that; the exact same car can mean a multitude of things to different folk.

     

    More oversimplification / dumbing down of autos to the consumer, IE : "1/A/1A" means entry level, etc etc.

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    I have never understood the motivation to distill an automotive brand down to 2 words. Why box oneself in? And besides that; the exact same car can mean a multitude of things to different folk.

     

    More oversimplification / dumbing down of autos to the consumer, IE : "1/A/1A" means entry level, etc etc.

    Today's marketing BS.

    Today's view that the brand is the focus more than the model.

     

    Eldorado is less than Cadillac. Cadillac is the key...

     

    1950s.

    - What do you drive?

    >Eldorado.

    - WOW! Just like Elvis!

    ( And everybody knew that not only an Eldorado was a Caddy, but they knew what was under the hood!)

     

    Today

    - What do you drive?

    > A Bimmer. Dont know what kind, but its a BMW.

    - I hear ya. Does it have the V6?

    >Na, its the V4...good on gas.

    Edited by oldshurst442
    • Upvote 2

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    I used to work with a guy that thought his BMW 540 had a V4 because it was a 540...

    A very real anecdote that represents my view quite accurately.

     

    Im sure he is glad to not have gone for the 535...a 3 cylinder powering a big car like that might have him questioning the slogan Ultimate Driving Machine.

     

    And I take it in Europe, in 1994, the 525 was a 2 cylinder two stroke. Or is that a 5 stroke because of the 5 at the end of the 525?

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    ^ This is EXACT example of which I speak : dumbing things down to 1 or 2 (or 3) number/letters…. yet, incredibly, people are STILL confused! Does that mean OEMs should spoon-feed consumers with grade-school level advertising to 'splain' each of their 'systems'? I, for one, say NO!!" I say; give them "Eldorado" and let them sink or swim, as they may. But the current prevailing system only makes the (clueless) consumers AND the OEMs look like dolts.

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    These true stories of Break My Wallet owners shed so much light on the level of fakery that permeates that whole culture.

    • Upvote 1

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      -1.4
      Car
      41,278
      35,423
      16.5
      364,822
      395,771
      -7.8
      Truck
      46,569
      41,875
      11.2
      320,345
      299,164
      7.1
      Import
      30,198
      24,282
      24.4
      177,076
      214,215
      -17.3
      Car
      255
      357
      -28.6
      1,944
      3,551
      -45.3
      Truck
      29,943
      23,925
      25.2
      175,132
      210,664
      -16.9
       
      INFINITI
      AUGUST
      AUGUST
      Monthly
      CYTD
      CYTD
      CYTD
       
      2019
      2018
      % chg
      2019
      2018
      % chg
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      Infiniti Total
      9,185
      10,796
      -14.9
      80,903
      92,713
      -12.7
      Infiniti Q50
      1,888
      2,551
      -26.0
      18,120
      24,105
      -24.8
      Infiniti Q60
      384
      674
      -43.0
      3,182
      6,121
      -48.0
      Infiniti Q70
      182
      306
      -40.5
      2,047
      3,102
      -34.0
      Infiniti QX30
      208
      662
      -68.6
      2,931
      6,079
      -51.8
      Infiniti QX50
      1,833
      2,449
      -25.2
      12,258
      13,124
      -6.6
      Infiniti QX60
      3,495
      2,870
      21.8
      29,190
      27,966
      4.4
      Infiniti QX70
      0
      66
      -100.0
      6
      925
      -99.4
      Infiniti QX80
      1,195
      1,218
      -1.9
      13,169
      11,291
      16.6
      Total Car
      2,454
      3,531
      -30.5
      23,349
      33,328
      -29.9
      Total Truck
      6,731
      7,265
      -7.4
      57,554
      59,385
      -3.1
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      NISSAN GROUP
      AUGUST
      AUGUST
      Monthly
      CYTD
      CYTD
      CYTD
       
      2019
      2018
      % chg
      2019
      2018
      % chg
       
       
       
       
       
       
       
      TOTAL VEHICLE
      127,230
      112,376
      13.2
      943,146
      1,001,863
      -5.9
      Total Car
      43,987
      39,311
      11.9
      390,115
      432,650
      -9.8
      Total Truck
      83,243
      73,065
      13.9
      553,031
      569,213
      -2.8
      Selling days
      28
      27
       
      206
      205
       
      # # #
  • Posts

    • ^^^ Clearing out the 2019s for the 2020s to arrive. 
    • I'd rather see what the car does at half throttle, but the manufacturers have already found a cheat for that. 
    • Nice! Super Cruise is awesome, tried it driving a CT6 Platinum I had for Cadillac's 24 hr. test drive. It's pretty accurate and a camera on top of the steering column watches your eyes too "see" if you're paying attention. With dark sunglasses on I tested it by looking at my passenger without moving my head and within 5 or 6 seconds it started beeping and flashing lights in the steering wheel and in the head-up display to alert me, so it saw the whites of my eyes through the sunglasses that's pretty badass really. Kinda like a backseat driver though haha! It stays in the lane really well and isn't jerky or slow to react or too fast to react if someone changes lanes in front of you and that was First Gen. SuperCruise early last year. Second Gen. SC for 2020 is suppose to be much more intelligent too. Pretty soon we'll be having conversations with our cars as we drive, something good to vent our frustrations to that doesn't get overemotional 😆
    • Got this cadillac marketing flyer in the mail today. Everything is 0% interest or some.serious cash on the hood on every model they sell. Wow, $11,000 off an Escalade. 
    • OK,  30 to 40 years ago the SOHC and DOHC were screaming Sewing machine engines with no go and sucked other than just a somewhat reliable nature in generic crappy compact auto's. They got a perception of reliable as they pushed service intervals out to 100,000 miles versus US OEMs stuck with stupid 30,000 mile intervals into the late 90's and sadly most auto owners are lazy with maintenance as such, US auto's would stop running when you failed to do the 30K tuneups and 3K oil changes. Plus most asian autos were manual everything where US was pushing electric everything. US auto's could survive a long life if people only followed the maintenance manual.  Sadly I doubt many on this forum have even read their own current owners manual. Being OCD, I have read everyone of my auto's I own and my 1994 GMC Suburban, the oldest car I own and bought new still out performs most current asian SUV/trucks. Take my GMC Suburban SLE over anything Asian or german that is sold today.  
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