Although the Infiniti brand is 24-years-old it hasn’t been enjoying a success similar to Toyota’s Lexus brand.
According to Nissan executive vice president, Infiniti’s parent company judged its sales depending on volumes and paid little attention to develop products similar to those of German rivals. Sales were mediocre, and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn considered at one time killing the luxury brand.
“Very frankly, very candidly, we don’t need Infiniti, we just don’t need that brand. We don’t have to do Infiniti, you can cancel it if you want,” Palmer recalled a conversation with Ghosn in an interview with WardsAuto at the 2013 North American International Auto Show. However, Palmer saw a future for Infiniti, provided that Nissan would commit to doing things properly.
“Infiniti has nice premium cars, but frankly, they’re kind of discount. And we’ve been selling those cars over a period of 23 years with a Nissan-push mentality,” Palmer said. He added many luxury brands owned by volume manufacturers fall into that same trap, except one: Audi. The Ingolstadt-based automaker has maintained some autonomy, thus escaping any negative connotation from its association with midmarket Volkswagen.
This is what allowed Audi “to create a series of professionals that understand the premium market in a very premium way.” And for the same reason, Nissan hired former Audi of America boss Johan de Nysschen to turn around Infiniti.