Culture

Infiniti EV on hold, sales projections questioned

By Dmitry Sheynin , Jun 09, 2013 07:05 PM EDT

Infiniti's new chief is already making waves by changing up the design of several upcoming sedans to be more "practical" rather than performance-oriented, as well as putting off plans to manufacture a long-awaited Infiniti EV.

The carmaker will instead focus on high-volume models, intended to move large quantities of units in a short period of time. The move reflects a call from Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Nissan (Infiniti's parent company) to boost Infiniti sales to 500,000 units per year. Last year, the company was only able to sell 170,000 vehicles globally.

"I'm under absolutely no illusion -- 500,000 cars by 2017 is an inordinately ambitious challenge," said Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti. "We really do have to get our heads around how we can bring the brand in that direction."

The Infiniti chief briefly touched on his vision for the future of the company's lineup, which will be more toned down than some of the concepts the company has been showing off lately.

"It will be more Porsche Panamera-like than BMW 7 series-like," he said. "We could then quite conceivably use the same platform to create a more compact 2+2, two-door coupe that could perhaps just dial up the performance and design appeal."

What does this mean for the Infiniti EV the company was rumored to be working on? The project is on an indefinite hiatus, it seems.

"There has been no formal decision yet within the company to give the project the green light and let them start with investment," de Nysschen said of an EV from the company. "In my evaluation of our business strategy, I introduced a whole bunch of additional considerations... We need to re-evaluate our assumptions," he said. "It would not be so smart to introduce a car when perhaps 12 or 18 months down the road you have all-new battery technology."

It's unknown what the vehicles that Infiniti is currently working on will eventually look like, but de Nysschen has indicated that they will be more practical and toned-down from the sports-car offerings the company has recently been touting at car shows. By 202, at least two new sedans will be offered above the current flagship sedan, which will be renamed the Q70. The new sedans will be based on the same platform.

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