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Infiniti Hybrid to Emerge in 2010

Nissan is close to finishing its own hybrid technology for its luxury brand Infiniti, says Infiniti National Dealer Advisory Board chairman John Capps. Speaking with Automotive News, Capps also revealed that a new M sedan and QX SUV will pop up soon as well-but what dealers really want is another near-luxury entry to compete with the BMW 3-Series.

Nissan currently sources its hybrid technology from Toyota, and the only application is in the Nissan Altima hybrid. Infiniti’s new hybrid system is likely to compare to Lexus’, which provides a better balance of performance and fuel economy rather than strictly improving fuel economy. Capps said the hybrid should be ready in 2010, but did not say which vehicle in the lineup would get the hybrid system.

When asked what dealers are really looking forward to, Capps says their top priority “is to get deeper into the near-luxury segment with another entry. That’s the biggest-volume segment within our luxury business, with about 600,000 units sold last year.” Infiniti’s current entry is the Infiniti G, which is available in sedan, coupe and convertible configurations. Infiniti sold 64,181 G cars last year, which accounted for 56 percent of its sales. BMW moved twice as many 3-series units in the same time.

Capps also says dealers are looking for another luxury crossover. Citing the EX and FX as niche models, Capps and other dealers want a vehicle similar to Lexus’ RX, a high-volume vehicle with good utility. The new EX is too small, and doesn’t have enough utility for the “soccer moms” Infiniti dealers want to target with a luxury crossover.

Capps would like to see Infiniti reach its long-time goal of becoming a top-tier luxury automaker in the vein of BMW, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz. In order to achieve the high volume its competitors have achieved, dealers want Infiniti to mimic the business model of its German rivals rather than Lexus’: a few high-volume sellers complemented by an expanded lineup of niche models.

Source: Automotive News

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