Infiniti plans to overhaul its U.S. distribution system over the next 18 months so its dealers operate with smaller inventories -- while also setting higher standards to earn them.
The luxury brand envisions a national inventory system that thrives on a 45-day vehicle supply.
"We've got to wean our organization off the idea that unless you've got 90 days of inventory, you're underinventoried," Infiniti President Johan de Nysschen said in an interview. "My ultimate objective would be to get down to 45 days."
On Sept. 1, Infiniti dealers had a 67-day supply of vehicles, according to the Automotive News Data Center.
"If I tell our dealers today, 'You've got to get by on 45 days' supply,' they'll have a heart attack," de Nysschen says. "But if you give them the tools to do it, then it becomes possible."
Those tools will be in the form of new information technologies Infiniti is developing. The automaker wants retailers to be able to check factory schedules in Japan and Tennessee to see what models are about to be built or are sitting unsold on ships heading to U.S. ports, or even to be able to swap with other dealers before their vehicles enter the country.
The changes will begin in January with the launch of a new dealer margin and bonus plan.