What do Infiniti39s latest concepts teach us Automotive News

What do Infiniti's latest concepts teach us? | Automotive News

  • Toronto Motor Show: What do Infiniti's concepts teach us?

In recent months, Infiniti has unveiled two concepts worldwide, namely the QX Monograph SUV at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in August 2023 and the Vision Qe electric sedan, this time at the Tokyo Motor Show, in November.

These two models were in Toronto and were the stars of Infiniti's stand.

Everything has been said about these vehicles since last summer. We also reported on the latter's presentations in our news feed.

Photo: D. Rufiange

The Infiniti Vision Qe concept was unveiled at the Toronto Auto Show

In Toronto, at the invitation of Infiniti, we took a closer look at these creations and, above all, met Alfonso Albaisa, head of design at the Nissan/Infiniti group.

By talking to him and analyzing the core of his speeches, we gained insight into the meaning of these two vehicles. Other conversations with some managers also allowed us to get an updated picture of the company's goals as the electric transition across the industry actually takes shape on a global scale, despite a slight slowdown in recent months.

Let's look at all of this together.

Photo: D. Rufiange

Infiniti Vision Qe concept

The context

With all due respect to the luxury brand Nissan, one has to admit that there is a certain skepticism in the entire environment (media and on the customer side) towards the brand and its future.

But how did we get there? Not long ago, Infiniti made many people dream.

From its founding in 1989, when Infiniti sold 1,072 vehicles in the US, the division developed in interesting ways until 2012. During this period there have been ups and downs, but broadly speaking we have seen growth, as shown by the following figures: first 50,000 sales in 1993, the milestone of 70,000 in 2003, then the consecration in 2005 with a total of 207,129 transactions.

Photo: D. Rufiange

Infiniti QX Monograph concept unveiled

After that it stayed strong. In addition to a decline to 128,000 vehicles during the 2009 crisis, we recovered in the following three years with more than 200,000 units and recorded a record 235,788 sales in 2012.

Back then, Infiniti had the wind in its sails with a range that seduced; the G37 and M56 sedans, the FX45 and EX35 SUVs, in short, models that are easily recognizable and carry a strong identity.

In 2014, the company changed the nomenclature of its models, all of which adopted the letters Q (QX for SUVs). In the United States, sales increased from 183,228 units in 2013 to 133,498 in 2014 (in Canada they remained more stable). After that, they yo-yoed (153,000 in 2017), but we were at 117,708 before the pandemic (2019), while it has been a free fall since 2020; 79,503, 58,555 and 46,616 from 2019 to 2022. A glimmer of hope in 2023 with a 40% increase to 65,316 units, mainly due to the renewal of the QX60 in 2022.

Photo: D. Rufiange

The all-new Infiniti QX Monograph concept

And that brings us to the heart of the matter. Many Infiniti models take a long time to renew. The Q50 sedan has been the same since 2014. The current SUV QX50 came onto the market in January 2018. The QX80 currently on sale was designed for 2011, with a major redesign in 2017.

In such a competitive world, it is difficult to stay at the top without more frequent innovations.

The problem is not the quality of the products, it should be emphasized, but rather the speed at which things move.

Photo: D. Rufiange

Infiniti QX Monograph gray

Announcements and delays

The second thing that has damaged public trust a little is promises that have not been kept.

In January 2018, the company announced that it would offer its first fully electric model from 2021. It also stated that all of its new vehicles would be electrified (partially or fully) and that from 2025 (that's soon), 50% of its global sales would consist of products that are electrified in one way or another.

We're still waiting for the first one.

Also unveiled at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show was the Q Inspiration Concept (gasoline engine), a car with absolutely sublime lines that hinted at big things for the future of the brand in terms of design.

Plans changed as strategy readjusted within the company. Then the pandemic came and disrupted all plans.

On the contrary, the point here is not to throw stones at Infiniti, but to put things in context so that we understand the pros and cons.

And that brings us to the two concepts shown in Toronto, because if there's one thing the brand won't do, it's give up. His plans have changed and evolved, but are still very much present.

Photo: D. Rufiange

Infiniti QX Monograph unveiled at the Toronto Auto Show

The QX monograph concept

What Infiniti needs most right now is a new model. It comes with the new QX80, shown here in concept form but 95% realistic. We should see this vehicle in production form by the end of this year.

And this is where things get interesting, because the signature that the concept bears will also be that of the brand's next models. And we see the lines are very modern and sophisticated. Will this be enough to revive the business? There will be something to see, but it will not happen with the QX80, but with, for example, a new QX50 or other new products that offer such a striking design.

Alfonso Albaisa was very proud to present us his creation, which features, among other things, a “signature” grille that we will see again, as well as a new three-dimensional logo with a very successful effect. The details on this vehicle are fascinating, such as the purple reflections that can be seen through the design of the rims depending on the viewing angle. And when we talk about modernity, the simple lighting signature is convincing: the main headlights have been moved lower into the bumper, while the daytime running lights, which represent the keys of a piano, can be found at the level of the hood.

It will be interesting to see how much is retained (and what is sacrificed) in the production version.

Photo: D. Rufiange

Infiniti Vision Qe concept at the Toronto Auto Show

Concept Vision Qe

As for the Vision Qe concept, it is obvious that we are dealing with a style study that will inspire the style of the brand's future cars. When designing this prototype, Alfonso Albaisa asked his team to maintain a continuous (pencil) gesture when creating the profile and then only add essential elements.

That's why it feels like this car is ready to race through the air.

When asked if its lines represent the kind of product we can see in the next decade, Alfonso Albaisa replied: “We are not looking that far into the future, even if the car seems very futuristic. What we include in the design are elements that will be found in future models in the short term, in a horizon of three, four or five years. »

Photo: D. Rufiange

Infiniti Vision Qe black

And it abounds in the brain of the designer who admits to always thinking about design, be it during breakfast, daily activities, going to bed at night, etc. The mind of a stylist can be compared to that of a musician, whose brain is constantly taking notes and arrangements for his next pieces.

“The process is constant and we are inspired by everything around us, such as elements of nature, everyday life, etc. » adds the designer.

The result is a sedan with lines that don't go unnoticed. To what extent will they influence the models who are inspired by them? Of course, we'll have to be patient to find out, but it's at least hopeful.

And it also shows that Infiniti has not given up on the car segment in the electric age. And as a manager told us about the adjustments to electrification plans, when the company launches its first model, it will be at the cutting edge of technology and ahead of its competitors, something that would not have been possible in the first projects the company had expected.

As if postponing projects would ultimately prove beneficial for Infiniti. This is a way of seeing the glass half full.

Photo: D. Rufiange

The all-new Infiniti Vision Qe

The last word

What we can hope for Infiniti is that it gets it right this time. May what it presented last year and what we witnessed in Toronto turn into something concrete, a new range that will appeal to enthusiasts.

We can sometimes be critical of one brand or another, that's our job, but ultimately we want each brand to be successful. Ultimately, there are tons of jobs behind it and the more choices the consumer has, the more they benefit.

The future looks interesting for Infiniti, but it has to happen quickly.

Photo: D. Rufiange

Infiniti, logo