Infiniti will keep a close eye on inventories this year to prevent dealerships from getting backed up with vehicles.
That effort extends to the newest product in the portfolio: a redesigned QX50 crossover that Infiniti retailers have been eagerly awaiting.
Infiniti expects the QX50 to become its biggest seller. But for its launch, the company plans to keep inventories low.
Mario Murgado, owner of Infiniti Stuart in Florida and chairman of the Infiniti National Dealer Advisory Board, believes that's a wise move — even though he is eager to start selling the redesigned QX50.
An early oversupply "would do none of us any good," Murgado said. "This car is the franchise. I need this car to be the most successful car and the most successful launch in the history of Infiniti."
Inventories have been a delicate issue for the brand since last year, particularly when an industry slowdown occurred during the summer and resulted in a spike in unsold vehicles for many brands.
Murgado said Infiniti's management team, led by Randy Parker, vice president of Infiniti Americas, moved quickly to bring the numbers back down.
"There are many dealers who had no problem," said Murgado, who owns the nine-store Brickell Motors group in Miami. "There were some dealers who have had some. But the issue has been resolved a lot. Randy Parker and his team have done a really good job of saying, 'Let's address the problem.' Randy understands the importance of being at the right size for the market. A lot of people understand that, but Infiniti has taken steps to fix it."
Murgado believes inventory management will remain a key issue in 2018, especially if industry sales soften and interest rates rise.
"We need to make sure we have the right inventory lined up at the right levels, and that we have the right inventory at the right time," he said. "We want to know that we are managing our inventories correctly as rates continue to go up. We need to watch that."