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by Tim Beissmann

Design and technology will be at the forefront of Infiniti’s push to reposition itself against its premium German rivals.

Infiniti chairman Andy Palmer told Automotive News Europe those two pillars would give the Japanese luxury car maker a point of difference to Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

“They produce very, very good cars, but they’re all much the same,” Palmer said. “I mean, they’re all drawn with a ruler, straight lines, very rational.

“Our design is provocative. Some people like it. Some people don’t. But it’s basically there to look very different. So it’s not drawn with a ruler. It’s not straight lines. It’s very sensual and will become even more so. It will be all about design motion.

“If you look at the millennial generation, what we call Gen Y, they don’t want to drive a car that their father drove.

Palmer said Infiniti’s partnership with Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler allowed it to deliver technology, vehicle dynamics and refinement to match the German trio.

“What Infiniti can do is provide the technology, the ride and handling, the NVH [noise, vibration and harshness] that is equal to those guys – this is one of the benefits of our relationship with Daimler.

“But Infiniti will put all this in a package that is first of all, by its nature, smaller volume. Therefore, it’s more unique.”


Palmer also defended the company’s steer-by-wire technology, which has attracted plenty of criticism for feeling unnatural and inconsistent since making its production car debut in the Infiniti Q50 sedan.

“Some people absolutely love it. Others absolutely hate it. Infiniti can be relevantly different and that’s why we chose to go with steer-by-wire.”

He also said it was more important that Infiniti was at the cutting edge of technology than worrying about whether it was making or losing money on features like steer-by-wire.

“It’s like every new technology. Did we make money on electric cars when we introduced them? Of course not. Profitability is always a subject of whether you cover your invested fixed costs.

“We don’t lose money on electric cars anymore, that’s clear. But when you enter a new technology, there’s a curve to be gone down and we’re obviously faster into that curve than anybody else.”