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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
In order to cut costs, Nissan plans to reposition Infiniti from luxury brand into Nissan-plus. The plan calls for Infiniti’s RWD vehicle to disappear and be replaced with dressed up versions of Nissan Altima and Maxima.

This will be Infiniti’s 3rd or 4th reboot. The last one when Nissan tasked De Nysschen with turning Infiniti into a true global luxury brand. In 2012, Infiniti renamed all its models, moved HQ from Yokohama to Hong Kong, caused massive confusion on the market, sales didn’t grow, and De Nysschen got the boot.

But this seems hardly like the solution. Firstly, brand repositionings hardly ever work. The odds are stacked steeply against it. Secondly, “premium mass” is a tough place to exist. Acura has struggled in that space for years. And a large number of brands, like LaSalle, Packard, Oldsmobile, DeSoto, Buick, Lancia and Chrysler, that occupied that space have either gone extinct, or face extinction.

Here’s the AN article: Nissan plots an Infiniti reboot to cap revival
 

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In order to cut costs, Nissan plans to reposition Infiniti from luxury brand into Nissan-plus. The plan calls for Infiniti’s RWD vehicle to disappear and be replaced with dressed up versions of Nissan Altima and Maxima.

This will be Infiniti’s 3rd or 4th reboot. The last one when Nissan tasked De Nysschen with turning Infiniti into a true global luxury brand. In 2012, Infiniti renamed all its models, moved HQ from Yokohama to Hong Kong, caused massive confusion on the market, sales didn’t grow, and De Nysschen got the boot.

But this seems hardly like the solution. Firstly, brand repositionings hardly ever work. The odds are stacked steeply against it. Secondly, “premium mass” is a tough place to exist. Acura has struggled in that space for years. And a large number of brands, like LaSalle, Packard, Oldsmobile, DeSoto, Buick, Lancia and Chrysler, that occupied that space have either gone extinct, or face extinction.

Here’s the AN article: Nissan plots an Infiniti reboot to cap revival
The problem is there is always someone in marketing who is of the opinion the only reason rebranding has failed in the past was because they weren't in charge of it. And of course, since it comes from marketing, it's easy to sell to the pointy haired boss. And it isn't related to just the auto industry.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yup. And brand strategies based on cost-cutting rarely have happy endings.
 
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In order to cut costs, Nissan plans to reposition Infiniti from luxury brand into Nissan-plus. The plan calls for Infiniti’s RWD vehicle to disappear and be replaced with dressed up versions of Nissan Altima and Maxima.

This will be Infiniti’s 3rd or 4th reboot. The last one when Nissan tasked De Nysschen with turning Infiniti into a true global luxury brand. In 2012, Infiniti renamed all its models, moved HQ from Yokohama to Hong Kong, caused massive confusion on the market, sales didn’t grow, and De Nysschen got the boot.

But this seems hardly like the solution. Firstly, brand repositionings hardly ever work. The odds are stacked steeply against it. Secondly, “premium mass” is a tough place to exist. Acura has struggled in that space for years. And a large number of brands, like LaSalle, Packard, Oldsmobile, DeSoto, Buick, Lancia and Chrysler, that occupied that space have either gone extinct, or face extinction.

Here’s the AN article: Nissan plots an Infiniti reboot to cap revival
Funny that this is happening as Acura is starting to look more relevant than it has in a long time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Funny that this is happening as Acura is starting to look more relevant than it has in a long time.
Indeed. But these recent results have come after several revival attempts and a lot of navel-gazing.

Acura’s problem is not unlike Chrysler’s: the brand has so little meaning that it goes up and down in direct relationship with the effort put into the product.
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Is anyone really attached to Infiniti enough to warrant its survival as a separate brand?
There’s a core group of loyals. Mostly Nissan fans that graduated into Infiniti. But Infiniti has been unable to expand the brand’s appeal, despite inordinate amount of resources channeled towards developing unique platforms...ehem architectures...

Personally, I find Infiniti’s association with Nissan a drawback, not a benefit. And I think Infiniti’s styling hasn’t been mature enough to appeal to global luxury buyers. Like many automakers, Infiniti wanted to attract a Millennial buyers with sufficient affluence to buy a $70,000 car. The problem is, there ain’t many of them, and the few that exist are attracted to the brand reputations of the Europeans.
 

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There’s a core group of loyals. Mostly Nissan fans that graduated into Infiniti. But Infiniti has been unable to expand the brand’s appeal, despite inordinate amount of resources channeled towards developing unique platforms...ehem architectures...

Personally, I find Infiniti’s association with Nissan a drawback, not a benefit. And I think Infiniti’s styling hasn’t been mature enough to appeal to global luxury buyers. Like many automakers, Infiniti wanted to attract a Millennial buyers with sufficient affluence to buy a $70,000 car. The problem is, there ain’t many of them, and the few that exist are attracted to the brand reputations of the Europeans.
I do like some things about the QX50, but it doesn't seem significantly nicer than something like a Murano and the use of a CVT in a "luxury" vehicle is really a turnoff. Plus, most Nissan and Infiniti products have interiors that look like they're a decade behind competitors.

RE Acura: I do think with the new RDX and TLX they are onto something as the RDX has received good reviews and the new TLX looks competent. The RDX was released in June 2018 and sales were a bit higher in 2018 than 2017, though I can't tell how much of that increase is from the new model and how much is from discounts on the previous generation. If the TLX S-type is well-received, they need to expand that trim level to an SUV.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Yes, the RDX has been a homerun. Pretty much since its inception. TLX has had its ups and downs. But RDX is a strange segment for a “luxury” brand to base its strength.

A key hindrance of Acura, IMO, is that you can only get one motor in any one of its models. And even when they offer a Type-S, you get little more than a nicer set of wheels and blackout trim. Shopping for an Acura is one of the least exciting things you can do.

RLX is being discontinued BTW.
 

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Yes, the RDX has been a homerun. Pretty much since its inception. TLX has had its ups and downs. But RDX is a strange segment for a “luxury” brand to base its strength.

A key hindrance of Acura, IMO, is that you can only get one motor in any one of its models. And even when they offer a Type-S, you get little more than a nicer set of wheels and blackout trim. Shopping for an Acura is one of the least exciting things you can do.

RLX is being discontinued BTW.
The 2021 TLX Type-S is much more of a performance vehicle with a turbocharged V6 and AWD among other things. You may be thinking of the A-Spec which really is just an appearance package.

2021 Acura TLX Sports Sedan Is a Welcome Return to Form (at https://www.caranddriver.com/news/a32687740/2021-acura-tlx-sports-sedan-photos-info/ )
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Type-S has traditionally been little more than an appearance package. Acura calls it a “performance” package, but you got the same 3.5 V6 with 5 more HP, along with nicer wheels, smoked light lenses, different exhaust tips and a stiffer suspension.



If Acura plans to offer upcoming Type-S with a different motor relative to regular TLX, that will be a first.
 

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Type-S has traditionally been little more than an appearance package. Acura calls it a “performance” package, but you got the same 3.5 V6 with 5 more HP, along with nicer wheels, smoked light lenses, different exhaust tips and a stiffer suspension.



If Acura plans to offer upcoming Type-S with a different motor relative to regular TLX, that will be a first.
Yep, the regular TLX will have the turbo 4-cylinder from the RDX while the Type-S has a turbocharged 3.0L V6. It is to the TLX what the S4 is to the A4 (or at least that's what Acura is hoping).

Next spring, the TLX Type S will arrive at dealers. Acura would like the Type S to be to the regular TLX what Audi's S4 is to the A4. Horsepower and torque numbers of the top TLX and its new turbocharged 3.0-liter V-6 have not yet been revealed, but we're expecting more than 350 horsepower and 350 lb-ft of torque. A single twin-scroll turbo pressurizes the DOHC V-6, but other than that we'll have to wait a few more months for more details. If you were hoping for a manual version, sorry: we were told that the Type S will only be offered with SH-AWD and the 10-speed automatic.

While the new engines are sure to bring straight-line speed, a new platform that's 50 percent stiffer in torsional rigidity and a new suspension setup should help the TLX nail the handling part of the sports-sedan brief. Engineers assure us that the TLX is tuned to give an "immediate emotional feel" and that it will have the nimble feel of a smaller car. Some of that will come from the variable-ratio steering and the tuning of the steering, but the TLX appears to have the right hardware for the job.

Acura fans who remember the Integra, Legend, and TL will be delighted to hear that the front suspension ditches struts for a control-arm setup. In back, a multi-link suspension will keep the rear in check. Adaptive dampers will be optional on regular TLXs and standard on the Type S. To remove weight from the nose, the battery moves to the trunk, and the hood, front fenders, front-bumper beam, and the top of the shock towers are made of aluminum. Acura engineers weren’t ready to reveal the weight distribution of the all-wheel-drive version or the Type S, but we were told that the front-drive TLX will have a 57/43 weight distribution. All-wheel-drive hardware should further shift that percentage rearward.
It may end up being as much of a flop as Infiniti's Red Sport 400--time will tell. It does appear to be focused on performance for the first time in a while, though.
 

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Didn't Infiniti start out as a fancy Nissan, like Acura as a fancy Honda? (I'd say Lexus but they made serious changes to make those early cars, and the first sold in the US wasn't based on a Toyota that Americans could buy. The Lexus SUVs seem to be just Toyotas with nicer trim.)

Chrysler has identity issues, as Aldo says, because they haven't really defined themselves well since WWII... the Chrysler was the big plush Dodge... which was the bigger plusher Plymouth...
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Well, it sounds like this would be the most effort Acura has put into a performance sedan in a very long time. That should pay off.

Infiniti started as completely separate from Nissan. The two shared the Maxima platform for awhile, just like Camry and Lexus ES. And then the original G sedan was a tarted up Sentra. But since the RWD G sedan appeared in the late 1990s, Nissan consciously separated the two brands in name, product and distribution. But then, the QX60 was based on Pathfinder, and the QX80 on Patrol (now Armada in N.A.)...
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It is easy for brands to move down market; it takes work to hold their positioning; it is nearly impossible to move upmarket.

Luxury brands in particular find it easy to move down market. You are correct: sales jump during the first 18 months or so, as anyone who wanted to get into the “luxury market” is now able to. Unfortunately, brands lose prestige and equity as they move down market. And in doing so, sales eventually stagnate and then decline.

My guess is Nissan has bigger fish to fry than try to keep propping up Infiniti. So badge engineering is the next best thing.
 
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Maybe with their electric vehicle plans, Infinitis can simply be nicer appointed vehicles with different sheetmetal on the same EV architecture as Nissans. Makes more sense when considering EVs as there wouldn't be a need to engineer different platforms.
 

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QX80 is quite popular and appears to be source of most of Infiniti profits. Perhaps Infiniti should be SUV/crossover brand only, just as Lincoln is becoming. The Infiniti RWD program is unsuccessful, just as Cadillac and Alfa Romeo.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
Going EV-only would require sacrificing 90% of existing sales volume. I don’t see anyone at Nissan willing give up so much volume. Besides, that’d decimate Infiniti’s dealer network.

Luxury brands that can only sell large SUV and little else have become synonym with weakness. Think Cadillac, Lincoln, Infiniti.

Luxury automakers have struggled for decades to find a balance between “prestige” and “sales volume.” In the industry, success has commonly been defined by sales volume. But in luxury, the ability to command a price premium comes from brand prestige, not sales volume. In fact, sales volume has an eroding effect on brand prestige over time.

It all goes back to the simple laws of economics:



Luxury brands that struggle with brand prestige, like Infiniti, can’t command neither the prices nor the sales volumes that meet their automaker’s requirements. So they resort to hefty discounting to drive up sales volume in the short-term, further eroding their brand prestige in the long-term. It is tough to break out of this cycle.

The devil is in the details, of course. But a closer connection to Nissan will likely allow Infiniti to lower prices to grow sales in the short-term, hurting brand prestige in the long-term. On the chart above, Infiniti is simply moving along their existing curve - i.e., trading a lower price for greater volume.

To break out of this cycle, Infiniti needs to move to a higher curve —see below. But that requires a long-term plan for dramatic improvement in product quality, in brand prestige, and lots of time, commitment, persistence and dedication. Like what Audi did.



Closer ties to Nissan will likely result in Infiniti shifting to a lower demand curve, which is going in the opposite direction.

De Nysschen sold Nissan on the idea that he drove Audi’s “miracle.” In fact, as his failures at Infiniti and Cadillac showed, without the long-term commitment in time and resources from Dr. Piëch and VAG, De Nysschen could have achieved very little.

Very few automakers are willing to commit to that extent. And Nissan clearly ain’t among them.
 
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