CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Infiniti is looking into new vehicle segments, including a mid-engine sports car and a more robust performance line, as it takes steps to boost dealer volume.
The Japanese luxury line last month revealed a plug-in hybrid mid-engine concept sports car called the Emerg-E at the Geneva auto show. Rather than merely making a design splash with it, the company now is weighing whether to build the car, says Ben Poore, Infiniti Americas vice president.
Poore says Infiniti also plans to beef up its nascent Infiniti Performance Line that was introduced last year.
So far, the IPL offerings are performance upgrades to the G coupe and G convertible. Infiniti has stopped short of making performance enhancements on the scale of its competitors, such as the AMG products from Mercedes-Benz and the M models from BMW. But Poore says there will be more to come.
"IPL is to us a steppingstone," he says. "It's not an AMG, and it wasn't intended to be. It's a place where we're going to start a subbrand."
Infiniti already is taking steps into a new segment this month with the introduction of the JX crossover. The JX puts Infiniti dealers into competition with Acura and Audi for the first time for shoppers who want a three-row-seat luxury import crossover. Poore predicts the JX will be a large-volume addition to the brand.
This week, Infiniti also will unveil an electric sedan at the New York auto show that will go on sale in 2014.