Infiniti considers fwd -- again
Nissan's Larry Dominique says performance models will continue to have rear-wheel drive.
DETROIT -- Infiniti is considering adding an entry-level vehicle, or a family of models, based on a front-wheel-drive platform.
Exempt from that strategy are the brand's performance cars, the Infiniti G and M. Those will remain rear drive, said Larry Dominique, Nissan North America Inc.'s vice president for product planning.
"The core of the brand is very important to us, this kind of performance sedan," Dominique said. "Can you have other vehicles in different segments around the core of your brand? Yes."
For Nissan, it's a reversal of strategy.
Infiniti began offering fwd and rear-wheel-drive models in 1991. The I35 sedan was Infiniti's last fwd car but was discontinued in 2004. At that time, Infiniti executives said they wanted only rwd vehicles, contending it was a better strategy to compete with BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
But during an interview this month at the Detroit auto show, Dominique said many buyers do not know or care whether their vehicle is based on an fwd or all-wheel-drive platform. Dominique cited Acura's TSX and TL models as examples. The TSX is an fwd vehicle, and the TL is offered as fwd or awd.
"Those buyers are OK with it," Dominique said.
Today, all of Infiniti's models are on a rwd platform.
Dominique said Nissan is not "restrained by that in the future. I think we could deliver Infiniti off a different platform and deliver the experience Infiniti customers expect."
Dominique did not offer details on the vehicles that may be developed in the future.
"It could be a family of vehicles or more on the entry side," he said. "If you look at other competitors, there are still other segment opportunities we could go into."