NEW ORLEANS -- Infiniti's redesigned QX50 compact crossover could become the brand's volume leader when it reaches showrooms in the fourth quarter, dealers were told at the make meeting during the NADA convention.
Randy Parker, vice president of Infiniti Americas, told retailers at the meeting that the 2018 QX50 is designed to "hit the sweet spot of the market right in crossovers," he said outside the gathering.
Parker said at the meeting that "December's results set a record for Infiniti, and we can keep doing that."
The QX50, which has not been redesigned since it debuted as the EX in 2007, is one of four Infiniti product enhancements due in the coming year, people at the meeting said. The freshened QX60 crossover and QX80 SUV will launch this year, as will a special edition Q50 sedan.
The Q50 entry sedan traditionally has been the portfolio's volume product. But Infiniti expects SUVs and crossovers to represent 60 percent of its sales this year, officials said at the meeting. Late this year, a factory will come on line in Aguascalientes, Mexico, that will produce the new-generation QX50 on a platform shared with a Mercedes-Benz vehicle that has not been identified.
Last year the aging QX50's sales totaled only 16,973. But that was a 210 percent increase from 2015 as customers took more interest in the vehicle after a 2015 change in the chassis to create more rear seat room.
Jose Munoz, chairman of Nissan North America, told the Infiniti dealers that Nissan and Daimler's product-sharing partnership is alive and well, despite media conjecture that it had run aground.
Munoz told the retailers that, to the contrary, Infiniti is likely to get more new products from the Daimler partnership. He added that Nissan's 2016 acquisition of a controlling interest in Mitsubishi Motors Corp. also could yield product opportunities for Infiniti, said John Fabre, owner of Infiniti of Baton Rouge in Louisiana and chairman of the Infiniti National Dealer Advisory Board.
Parker told dealers that Infiniti had done well in several key areas in 2016, including improved customer satisfaction scores in sales and service.
According to dealers in the meeting, Parker said, "I want to assure everybody in the room that improving dealer profitability is our top priority in 2017."