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Infiniti may add cars, big and small

Nissan's Shiro Nakamura: "Next decade, luxury may be defined by technology, quality and design."
PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. — Infiniti is debating whether it needs a top and a bottom.

Specifically, Nissan's luxury brand may add a flagship sedan and an entry-level model. But the flagship, in particular, faces obstacles.

"At the moment, society is pushing for smaller cars," said Shiro Nakamura, global design director for Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. "We would like to have a Q45, but I cannot do it without" support from society.

The Q45, Infiniti's former flagship sedan, sold poorly. Nissan discontinued it in 2006.

Nissan is positioning Infiniti as a global luxury brand, which could bolster the case for a flagship and a smaller, entry-luxury car.

Infiniti is considering adding a car smaller than the G37, shown.
A decision on whether to develop a new flagship sedan had been expected this summer, but Nakamura said high fuel prices "make it more difficult" to justify development of such a vehicle.

"We want to be Tier 1 luxury, like BMW, Lexus," said Nakamura, who was interviewed during an Infiniti event here last month. "But I'm not sure (a big sedan) is necessary to be a luxury brand. Next decade, luxury may be defined by technology, quality and design."

As for developing a car smaller than the G37, Nakamura said demand exists outside the United States, but Nissan is still studying the segment. He said an entry-level Infiniti is at least three years away.

Asked whether the car would be rear-drive, Nakamura said: "We hope so. The essence of Infiniti is the driving experience. We think it is quite important to maintain rear-wheel drive for the Infiniti line." 

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