Infiniti is a luxury car division from Nissan, a Japanese automaker. They’ve been selling vehicles in the United States since 1989, but have a network of dealers located in more than 50 countries.
Infiniti’s global headquarters resides in Hong Kong since 2012. That’s when Carlos Ghosn decided the company could have a more substantial influence on the luxury market from China instead of Japan.
The first vehicle to be produced outside of Japan was the QX60 luxury crossover (previously the JX35). Some new vehicles are built at the Chinese plant that’s operated as a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor.
Nissan, the parent company of Infiniti, is still headquartered in Japan with regional offices throughout the world. While the Infiniti brand itself isn’t sold in Japan, there are some models rebadged as a Nissan.
A Brief History of Infiniti
Nissan: The Infiniti Origin
Infiniti came to the United States as a way for Nissan to break into the premium vehicle market. The brand was a response to Toyota creating Lexus and Honda releasing Acura luxury cars. The first Infiniti hit the market in 1989 when it was easy for Japanese companies to export expensive vehicles to the United States due to export restraints.
The initial launch involved two models, the M30 and Q45. The Q45 had previously sold in other markets and was a newer generation of the JDM Nissan President. It included a V8 engine that produced 278 horsepower, active suspension and four-wheel steering. Competitors included the BMW 7 Series, Cadillac Fleetwood, Jaguar XJ, and Mercedes S-Class.
The M30 was a two-door coupe that remained in the market for three years. They used a VG30E powertrain which produced 162 horsepower, but it seemed to be underpowered for its heavier frame.
Infiniti didn’t immediately release a mid-luxury sedan as the other Japanese companies did. Their first attempt was the J30, which was meant to rival the Lexus ES, but it wasn’t successful. Many people felt that the small interior and lack of styling left undesirable feelings.
Their third model was released in 1991. The G20 came from the European-inspired Nissan Primera.
During 1993, the company released the J30, a new four-door coupe. There was only one engine available, the VG30DE that produced 210 horsepower.
Initial sales for the company were slow. Some of this might have been a lack of brand awareness. Otherwise, they didn’t adorn their interiors as other luxury automakers did. They used rounded surfaces and monochrome appeal.
Growing a Company
During the mid-1990s, the automaker fell far behind Acura and Lexus regarding sales. Their Q45 was barely noticed and even received the nickname of being a “Japanese Lincoln.”
The QX4 was released in 1997. It was one of the first mid-size premium SUVs offered from a luxury car maker. They also replaced their J30 with the I30. Eventually, it ended up having a VQ35DE engine that produced 227 horsepower. Plus, it featured front-wheel-drive and an updated appearance. Still, sales weren’t what the company expected.
In 1999, they revived their G20 as an entry-level sports sedan. It used the SR20DE four-cylinder engine which causes sales to fall short yet again.
Once the company hit the 2000s, they started to feel the lack of desirability and wondered if they were on the verge of extinction. That’s when they rededicated themselves to developing more powerful and dynamic luxury sports cars.
In 2002, they released the G35 which improved the company’s sales. In fact, it won as Motor Trend’s Car of the Year in 2003.
To piggyback on the success, they released the FX35/45 crossover in the same year. It had a lot of the same components from the G35 and was tailored to suit the likes of Americans. It featured good performance, superior handling, and offered all-weather capabilities.
In 2004, they added an upgraded G35 sports sedan that featured all-wheel-drive. This was to compete with BMW and Audi’s line of sports sedans with all-wheel-drive. They also released their larger SUV, the QX56 (based off the Armada), to compete with the Lexus LX470 and Toyota Land Cruiser.
Further Success For The Infiniti Car Maker
Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Nissan, wanted to break the luxury brand away from its roots. Their G Series did just that as it identified as a Japanese BMW. In fact, the line’s sole purpose was to compete against BMW’s 3 Series of vehicles.
Then, their M35/M45 earned a lot of attention from automotive enthusiasts. It even won the Car and Driver comparison test between eight vehicles and earned Consumer Report’s best luxury sedan label.
For 2007, they redesigned the G35 and later, offered a newer version of the G-coupe with the G37. In 2008, the new EX35 was released. It was a compact crossover that shared the 3.5-liter 306 horsepower V6 engine from the G35.
Infiniti made its first appearance in Europe during the 2008 Geneva Motor Show. To start with, four models were released over two-years across 21 countries. Just two years later, the company released a new powertrain specifically for the European market. It was their V9X motor developed as part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance. It was used in the FX, EX, and M.
During 2010, the Infiniti Performance Line was unveiled across America. Then, in 2012, they hit the market with an innovation, the Backup Collision Intervention.
At the end of 2011, their G Series line of vehicles accounted for 60% off all the sales. That’s because their line of SUVs was aimed at the wrong target market.
Beginning in 2013, all the model designations changed to the letter Q, with crossovers and SUVs using QX.
Alternative Propulsion Methods
In the early part of 2018, Hiroto Saikawa, the chief executive announced that Infiniti would become an all-electric brand. He expects that every car offered will either be powered by electricity or hybrid by 2021.
The Q50 Hybrid uses the company’s Direct Response Hybrid system which runs on a combination of electric motor, lithium-ion battery, and gasoline. The Q50 comes with 360 horsepower and a 0-60 mph time of 4.9 seconds.
Infiniti Safety and Crash Ratings
There are some mixed reports about safety ratings for the Infiniti line of vehicles. According to the IIHS, none of the 2018 Infiniti vehicles were given top scores.
On the other hand, the NHTSA lists the QX60 SUV with a five-star overall safety rating.
Infiniti Safety Equipment
Infiniti believes in offering a unique driving experience through performance, confidence, and preparation. That’s why their safety technologies work to empower drivers.
With the Predictive Forward Collision Warning, drivers receive notification that there’s risk ahead. This is done with the help of a front-mounted radar which scans the road.
The Forward Emergency Braking detects vehicles ahead and alerts the driver when the brakes need to be applied. If the driver doesn’t respond, the brakes are automatically applied to reduce the severity of the impact.
The Direct Adaptive Steering uses inputs for smoother steering and less effort by the driver. With the Lane Departure Prevention and Active Lane Control, a camera keeps drivers in their lane. If the driver starts to leave the lane, a signal alerts them. If it isn’t corrected, the vehicle gently steers them back into the lane. It’s useful when driving on uneven roads or during windy conditions.
The Around View Monitor with Moving Object Detection utilizes four cameras to generate a 360-degree view when parking so the driver sees everything around the vehicle. It also alerts when there are moving objects nearby.
The Backup Collision Intervention detects approaching vehicles or stationary objects behind the car. If needed, the brakes will engage to avoid a collision.
Other safety technologies include Safety Shield, Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist, Blind Spot Intervention, Blind Spot Detection, and an advanced airbag system.
Infiniti Safety Recalls
Infiniti isn’t listed individually on the Wards Auto Recall Study or Forbes. Most likely, they’ve been grouped together with the Nissan Company’s ratings.
Wards Auto lists Nissan right at the middle of the list with a #9 rating out of 18 automakers. The biggest concern is that 95.2% of the recalls included consequences that might lead to death, injury, crash, accident, or fire. On a brighter side, they did initiate their own recalls about 57.4% of the time.
Forbes, on the other hand, listed Nissan toward the lower side of recalls. They ranked #4 out of 15 on their list.
In 2014, Nissan recalled the 2014 Infiniti Q50 Hybrid and the 2014 Infiniti Q70 Hybrid. In total, over 5,000 vehicles were recalled due to a software error. If defective, it caused the electric motor to stop working while the car was in motion, leaving the driver in a stalled-like condition.
Then, in 2017, Nissan recalled over 14,000 Q50 and Q60 vehicles from 2016-2018. Again, a software glitch caused the vehicles to stall. This time it was created by the fuel pump control module.
Consumer Satisfaction Reports & Dependability Ratings
Infiniti is ranked number 14 out of 34 brands on the Consumer Reports Predicted Reliability Study. They also ended up in the middle of the Owner Satisfaction Study as well.
J.D. Power also ran a study for Vehicle Dependability and Infiniti didn’t fare well. They received 3/5 points for Powertrain Dependability. In the Overall Dependability, Body and Interior Dependability, as well as the Feature and Accessory Dependability, they only earned 2/5 points.
In the Consumer Reports study on Vehicle Ownership, Infiniti ranked on the higher end, as did most luxury vehicles. Over a three-year period, the average cost for maintenance and repair was $210. After ten years, that number jumped to $705. This did place them lower than other luxury brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Jaguar.
Infiniti has won numerous awards over the years for their design, capability, and performance. Here are a few of the most recent awards won.
- Most Trusted Luxury Brand by AMCI
- Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Dealer Service among Luxury Brands from J.D. Power
- 2018 Infiniti QX30 named Compact Luxury Crossover Utility Vehicle of Texas by the Texas Auto Writers Association
- Infiniti QX60 wins U.S. News & World Report 2017 Best Luxury Three-Row SUV for Families Award
- 2017 Infiniti QX60 Wins Autobytel Buyer’s Choice Best Luxury SUV Award
- Infiniti 3.0-liter Twin-Turbo V6 Engine named one of Wards “10 Best Engines” during 2017
Their former model designation used one letter for the coupes or sedans and two for SUVs. Then, the number referred to the engine’s displacement. For example, the Infiniti QX56 was one of their SUVs that was powered by a 5.6-liter engine. The one exception to the rule was the QX4 SUV which used a 3.3-liter engine.
If an “x” followed the number, it meant that the vehicle featured all-wheel-drive. In addition, the “s” meant sport package, the “h” showed the vehicle was a hybrid, “d” meant diesel, and “t” stood for a Touring model.
In 2013, they changed all their models of coupes and sedans to use the letter Q. Crossovers and SUVs moved to a QX. The number now reflects where the model sits in the brand. For example, the M sedan turned into the Q70 while their G sedan became the Q50.
Infiniti Performance Line
The Infiniti Performance Line (IPL) represents the higher-performance line of cars as well as the S marques. This division was released in 2010 and debuted with the G37 coupe plus convertible.
The G37, which later became the Q60, featured 348 horsepower. It also included a sporty suspension, direct steering, 19-inch wheels, and a redesigned exhaust system with larger tips. Inside the vehicle, there were red Monaco leather seats.
The “S” variant of a vehicle meant it contained sportier styling, a firmer suspension, and more horsepower.
One of the biggest ways that Infiniti gives back is through its annual Coaches Charity Challenge. 2018 marked the eighth consecutive year for the event. Coaches for men’s basketball, as well as the supporters and fans donate money toward the cause.
On top of that, the company donated more than $700,000 during 2017 for Coaches vs. Cancer. This collaboration is possible because of the National Association of Basketball Coaches and the American Cancer Society.
In 2017, they also donated an additional $350,000 to other philanthropic organizations that were selected during the Coaches’ Challenge. John Beilein was the 2017 coach to win from the University of Michigan. Because of that, the ChadTough Foundation received a $100,000 check from Infiniti.
Infiniti InTouch System
New vehicles are equipped with the Infiniti InTouch System. This integrates the security features, convenience, entertainment, and navigation into one dash-mounted screen in the cabin. It allows drivers to stream music wirelessly, start the car with a smartphone, and unlock the doors with the sound of a voice.
Some of the remote commands include door locking, unlocking, accessing the Infiniti Personal Assistant, and finding your vehicle. Voice commands work through an Alexa-enabled device and include flashing the lights, starting the car, and more.
Product suites include navigation services, Amazon Alexa, hands-free text messaging assistant, Bluetooth, SiriusXM satellite radio, traffic link, and more. It’s also easy to connect iPods and other compatible devices either through the Bluetooth or USB port.
Snapshot of the Company
Infiniti Motor Company Ltd. produces luxury automobiles. They sell through showroom dealers across the world and were founded in 1989. Their headquartered in Hong Kong and operate as a subsidiary of Nissan Motor Company.
The Chairman and Global President of the company is Mr. Roland Krueger. He is also the Senior Vice President of the Nissan Motor Company. Prior to working for Infiniti, Krueger was the Senior Vice President for the BMW Group.
Infiniti USA is based out of Franklin, Tennessee. The Vice President for Infiniti Americas is Mike Colleran.
The company operates several production facilities in Japan that are shared with Nissan. An American-based production facility is located in Smyrna, Tennessee. They produce the QX60 as well as several Nissan vehicles. There’s a production facility located in the UK for the Q30 and QX30. In addition, they operate research and development facilities as well as production plants throughout Asia, Oceania, Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa.
In 2017, Infiniti sold 153,415 vehicles. This was an all-time sales record for the company with an overall increase of 11% from 2016. The sales of their QX30 premium crossover raised 524% for the year. In addition the QX80 SUV increased 7% for the year.
The Infiniti brand is actually a part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. They are a Franco-Japanese partnership between several manufacturers and they are based in France. It originally began as a partnership in 1999 between just Renault and Nissan. In total, they have more than 450,000 employees. In 2017, they also acquired the controlling interest in Mitsubishi and therefore, changed the name.
As of early 2018, they were the world’s leading manufacturer of plug-in electric vehicles thanks to the Nissan Leaf. The main companies that fall under the alliance’s umbrella include:
- Renault Samsung Motors
The company states that their logo is two lines which lead off into an infinite point out on the horizon. This symbolizes a luxury brand that always wants to look forward to the newer horizons.
They’ve incorporated two concepts into their logo. The first is the illusion of a road vanishing into the horizon. The second is that the logo creates an infinite loop. It’s a creative way to express their brand name uniquely.
Infiniti uses several advertising strategies that make it successful. They started with localization. Instead of target the entire international market at one time, they opted to focus on a localized area first. They focus heavily on investing in Infiniti China because it’s one of their largest markets and the gateway to several other regions. This helps them to brand their product to a specific culture.
The company also knows how important it is to create a singular voice. That’s why they use top advertising agencies to work with all their global markets as a whole. This allows every division of Infiniti to maximize the same messages and feelings.
Infiniti believes strongly in sponsorship. That’s why they invested heavily in their support of the Red Bull Formula One racing team through 2015. This helped them establish a foothold with an already known and respected brand but also brought them into the spotlight with new customers. It also enabled them to earn respect among the racing community.
Their website is also geo-targeted. This allows all regions to receive information in their own language and see things culturally relevant to them.
One of their most memorable commercials occurred in 2015. Ethan Embry, otherwise known as Clark Griswold’s son in the 1983 National Lampoon’s Vacation movie, is seen driving a QX60 for a family vacation. During the trip, he sees a beautiful blonde driving a Lamborghini next to him. Embry then looks into the passenger seat where Christie Brinkley is sitting with him. It was a recreation of the famous movie scene with Chevy Chase.
The company continues to be well-known for their racing efforts. Starting in 1996, Nissan began competing in Indy Racing with Infiniti. They used a variant of their VH engine that was placed in the Q45 production vehicles. In the 2000 season, driver Eddie Cheever took third place. They stopped racing after the 2002 season and just a few wins.
Starting in 2011, Infiniti became the sponsor of Red Bull Racing for Formula One. The company also signed with Sebastian Vettel to become the brand’s global ambassador. While they enjoyed much success as a team for several years, there was a breakdown between the automaker and the team. As things started to fall apart in 2014, the company pulled out from their sponsorship for the 2015 season.
Currently, they work with Renault Sport Formula One to create innovations for on and off the track. Today, the team sponsors two drivers, Nico Hulkenberg and Carlos Sainz.
While Infiniti doesn’t have their own museum, there are several Nissan run museums that feature a lot exhibits associates with the brand. The Nissan Engine Museum, which is located inside the Yokohama auto plant in Japan, houses engines built since 1934.
Not only that, but they have a nice collection of the newest models available for viewing. In total, there are 28 engines on display as well as an outlined history of the Nissan Company’s plant.
In Japan, there’s also a Nissan Heritage Collection. This private gallery is located inside Nissan’s engine manufacturing plant and there are a total of more than 450 vehicles. They also showcase some competition cars and a few from their smaller brands like Datsun.
While neither of these museums showcases Infiniti-brand vehicles, they are a good representation of the brand’s parent company. Part of the reason there is no museum is that the automaker is relatively young in comparison to most automobile manufacturers. As the company continues to get older, the chances that a dedicated Infiniti museum pops up in the future is more likely.
Infiniti also sponsors numerous car shows and events throughout the United States each year. This gives enthusiasts another way to view some of their favorite vehicles.
When consumers are looking at an Infiniti for sale, they want options as far as financing is concerned. Whether the goal is to purchase an Infiniti on sale or look for an Infiniti for lease, the company offers several solutions.
Infiniti Finance is located in Dallas, Texas. They offer lease options as well as competitive financing rates. They even work with certified pre-owned vehicles.
What makes the company unique is that they offer their own Infiniti Visa Card as well. Rewards include five points for every dollar spent at an Infiniti or Nissan dealer plus fuel stations. Then, there are also three points earned for every dollar spent at restaurants, cafes, or eateries. Finally, users earn a point for every dollar spent anywhere else. Then, consumers can redeem the points for cash toward their statement balance.
Infiniti offers a standard warranty on new vehicles. This includes a four-year/60,000-mile Basic coverage, five-year/50,000 mile Emissions Control coverage, six year/70,000 mile Powertrain coverage, and more. Drivers have the option to choose the Elite Protection Program as well. This includes roadside assistance, towing, car rentals, trip interruption, and more. There are also prepaid maintenance programs available for purchase, which saves some money if the consumer plans to go to the dealer for scheduled maintenance.
Infiniti offers discount programs for diplomats or military personnel. The company also provides an Infiniti Mobility Assist Program. This allows consumers to receive $1,000 back for the purchase of any mobile assistance product installation.
Infiniti Dealerships are located throughout the United States. Not only do they participate in the sales of these luxury vehicles, but many locations also offer service. What makes them unique is that they provide Express Service. This program allows drivers to receive expert service at a fast pace without the need for an appointment. They include oil and filter changes, tire rotation, battery service, wiper blade replacement, and air filter service in the program. While there, they also include a complimentary multi-point inspection.
When searching for the best Infiniti dealership, you’ll want to pay attention to any awards they’ve won. The Infiniti Award of Excellence is the highest award presented by the company. It recognizes a small portion of the dealerships that meet their highest standard for sales achievements and customer satisfaction. To earn this recognition, dealers must rank high on facility condition, sales effectiveness, training certifications for employees, and customer satisfaction.
Another good place to look for an Infiniti dealer is through the J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence listing. They aren’t brand specific, but they did list Infiniti of Tacoma in Fife from Washington State as the only Infiniti dealer in the country to earn a prestigious spot.
3 Interesting Facts about Infiniti
1 – Since the beginning, the company has sold more than one million vehicles. The majority of these sales occurred in the United States.
2 – Every Infiniti vehicle ever made features an analog clock inside. It’s a signature feature that the luxury automaker isn’t ready to do without.
3 – It’s estimated that Infiniti owners tend to take 36% more long road trips than an average driver.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Infiniti a Nissan? Is Nissan and Infiniti the Same Company? Yes, the company is owned by Nissan and is a part of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. Nissan created the luxury brand to compete with Acura and Lexus.
Where are Infiniti Cars Made? Is Infiniti a Foreign Car? There are factories all over the world. Some are in Japan, where the company’s headquarters are, but not the majority of them. Otherwise, production plants are found in the United States, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East.
Are Infinities Good Cars? In most studies, including Consumer Reports, the Infiniti brand scores low on both customer satisfaction and dependability. With that in mind, they do seem to have a lower maintenance cost than most other luxury vehicles.
Is Infiniti a Luxury Car? Yes. Infiniti is considered a luxury vehicle because of the high-quality materials and amenities. Other competing luxury car brands include Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, BMW, and Acura.
Does an Infiniti Need Premium Gas? Not necessarily. Many luxury vehicles come with engine-knock sensors which stops engine noise no matter what type of fuel you put in. Be sure you read the owner’s manual and do whatever is recommended.
Do Infinitis Hold Their Value? No, but most luxury cars don’t hold their value well.