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That’s the claim of Infiniti’s North American vice president-sales Brian Carolin who spoke recently with Ward’s Auto.
Why all the fuss about reaching Tier 1 status in the luxury field? Because brands in this field are enjoying sales levels of nearly double what Infiniti is experiencing, as well as positive press and significantly more publicity. Last year BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Luxury all sold more than 200,000 vehicles in the U.S., easily eclipsing Infiniti’s tally of 103,411 vehicles.
One key advantage the established luxury brands have over Infiniti are their high-priced halo models, which tend to bring in significant customer numbers even though they don’t sell in high numbers. The issue has Infiniti thinking if it needs a new flagship sedan to take on the likes of the BMW 7-Series and Lexus LS or a super sports car to rival the likes of the Audi R8 and Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.
“It’s kind of perennial debate within the organization: ‘What do we need by way of a flagship for the Infiniti range?’” Carolin said. “I don’t think we’ve yet arrived at a conclusion,” he adds, calling the flagship decision “a work in progress.”
Of course, there was the stunning 2009 Infiniti Essence Concept, which showed a possible direction Infiniti could take for a new flagship. However, poor economic conditions at the time of its unveiling ensured that it would remain just a pretty object for the foreseeable future.