Infiniti is changing its coat of arms. The luxury division of Nissan Motor is dispensing with "M", "G" and "FX" and the numerical engine-displacement signifiers that follow. Now, the names of all Infiniti cars, worldwide, will start with "Q" and SUVs with "QX". There will be numbers following the letter, but they will denote the model's place in the Goldilocks hierarchy: by size and prestige. Think Audi A4, A5, A7, and A8. Same drill for BMW. The first model will be the Q50, an all-new premium sports sedan to be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next month.
Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti Motor Company Limited, who traveled with the brand from global headquarters in Japan to Hong Kong, said in a Monday evening press conference that the change helps clear up a car's place in the lineup. He also said the current horsepower nomenclature will be a problem going forward because those numbers would get smaller or even become irrelevant as Infiniti continues its shift to new, fuel-efficient engine tech.
De Nysschen also pointed out that as Infiniti is about to expand the line both up-market and down, a ranking badge is mandatory. "Until now, we have been U.S.-centric, and the time has come to take our business global, and look at the brand from that vantage point," he said. "If we look at strategy today and apply to future products in the pipeline, one discovers that you run out of a suitable range of alpha-numeric combinations [with the current system]. And we are … entering markets where the brand is not as well known. So we wanted to follow nomenclature philosophy that's easy to understand."
As for acceptance in the U.S., where the current naming system is known, he said that Infiniti's research shows 63% of customers had a "very positive reaction," and only 17% bemoaned the loss of G or M. "That is something we can manage."
The rollout begins next year, starting with the Q50, with on-sale date coinciding with the traditional model year switchover, when inventories of late model cars are relatively low. De Nysschen explained that the timing reduces as much as possible consumer confusion at the showroom, when old badges are side by side with new.