Infiniti Q50 Hybrid will have awd option
Poore: Allwheel- drive models account for 70 percent of Infiniti sales.
DETROIT -- A dealer from one of Infiniti's large stores in the Northeast stopped Ben Poore during the Detroit auto show.
"Just tell me that the Q50 Hybrid will come as an all-wheel drive," the dealer begged Poore, vice president for Infiniti in the Americas, referring to the brand's just-unveiled replacement for the G37.
Poore assured him awd will be an option.
"Good," the dealer said. "Then I'm in the hybrid business."
The exchange illustrates a problem that the Q50 will address when it goes on sale this summer. Luxury automakers are moving deeper into gasoline-electric hybrid powertrains, and Infiniti intends to follow suit. But luxury shoppers are also clamoring for awd -- and Nissan's only current hybrid, the flagship M sedan, lacks it.
Poore says Infiniti sales have been running 70 percent awd. The brand's JX crossover, which was launched in March, is running closer to 85 percent, he says.
But only 5 percent of M sedan sales are hybrids, he says. The lack of awd makes it a tough sell in the Northeast, one of Infiniti's biggest sales regions.
"Almost 100 percent of everything we sell north of Maryland is all-wheel drive," Poore says. "And that preference is moving south. Our customers in Alabama also want all-wheel. People are willing to pay for all-wheel drive, just in case they need it."
Poore declines to forecast what percentage of Q50 sales will be hybrids. But thanks to the awd, it will be much higher than the M, he says.
"The awd variant dramatically improves our ability to sell this car," Poore says of the Q50 Hybrid. "Our retailers are very bullish on it."
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