PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- As it mulls expanding the Infiniti line, Nissan Motor Co. is considering a car smaller than the brand's best-selling G -- and smaller engines to power it.
Infiniti's smallest engine is a 3.5-liter V-6, but the company now sees merit in a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine.
"We're starting to investigate an expansion of the brand," said Nissan's global design chief, Shiro Nakamura, at a press event here. "These are just ideas we are thinking about."
Also under consideration: a high-end coupe or convertible to be Infiniti's equivalent to the Nissan GT-R, the Nissan brand's halo sports car due in 2008. Some planners say the raw power of the 500-hp GT-R isn't suited to Infiniti's refined image. But there still is interest in the segment.
Another possibility is what Nakamura calls an Infiniti "people mover" -- a vehicle different from a minivan and SUV, but one that doesn't crowd Infiniti's FX crossover or the EX crossover that goes on sale in December.
The product ruminations are noteworthy because they reveal Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn's zeal for Infiniti. Two years ago, the brand languished without new products. The pipelines are now open, with a redesigned G37 coupe emerging recently, the EX en route and a promise from company officials for a new product every year for an undetermined period.
And Ghosn is taking the U.S.-based Infiniti global, rolling out market launches in China, Europe, Japan, Korea and Russia.
Selling to a global market means bigger economies of scale for Infiniti models, says Larry Dominique, North American product planning vice president for Nissan and Infiniti.
Says Dominique: "That makes more things possible for us."
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