The partnership was more casual than the linkup between Nissan and Renault. But through platform-sharing and manufacturing deals, Daimler would become a key supplier of Infiniti's portfolio.
As part of the deal, Daimler and Nissan jointly built a $1.4 billion plant in Mexico with capacity for 300,000 vehicles a year for Mercedes-Benz and Infiniti. In the end, the project only exacerbated Nissan's overcapacity problems. Last year, the shared plant in Aguascalientes churned out just 30,294 Infiniti QX50 crossovers.
Nissan still makes 2.0-liter turbocharged engines for both Infiniti and Mercedes at a factory in Decherd, Tenn., based on Mercedes engine architecture. But the slow-selling Infiniti Q30 hatchback and QX30 compact crossover, based on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class platform, were unceremoniously dumped in 2019 after only four years.
Today, Infiniti vehicles are made at six facilities around the world — two in Japan, two in China, the Mexico plant and Nissan's Smyrna, Tenn., factory, which makes the QX60 crossover. This is for a global lineup of only six main nameplates that generate worldwide volume of less than 200,000.
Under Nissan's midterm plan, called Nissan Next, the No. 2 Japanese automaker wants to cut about $2.78 billion in fixed costs. It also proposes to cut its global production capacity from 7.2 million to 5.4 million vehicles.
The reconfiguration will boost the company's factory utilization to 80 percent, from around 70 percent today. Nissan also will trim the number of nameplates 20 percent to shrink the global lineup to fewer than 55 models from 69. It will focus on a smaller number of more profitable core models and roll them out more quickly to bring the average portfolio age below 4 years.
The restructuring comes on the heels of a 30 percent tumble in Nissan Group's U.S. sales through March in an overall market that was down 12 percent. The Nissan brand fell 30 percent to 232,048 vehicles, while Infiniti slid 26 percent to 25,558.
In May, Infiniti's recently appointed global chairman, Mike Colleran, was re-tasked after less than two months to take over Nissan Division sales for the U.S. Succeeding him as Infiniti chairman, effective this week, is Peyman Kargar, a former Renault executive.