Nissan, Infiniti Backtrack On Radical Performance Offerings

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A lot can change in a year, especially in the auto industry it would seem. Not long ago, senior Nissan and Infiniti execs were touting some pretty radical performance offerings but now it looks like the cars are all off the table.

In the Nissan camp, there were plans for an electric sports car based on the delta-shaped BladeGlider concept car as well as a potential Scion FR-S rival previewed by the well-received IDx Freeflow and IDx NISMO concepts.

Over at Infiniti, we were close to seeing the automaker finally launch the equivalent of a GT-R sedan in the form of the Q50 Eau Rouge, which featured the GT-R’s 560-horsepower powerplant and an all-wheel drive system. The car was even being worked on by four-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Well, Vettel is now driving for Ferrari and other key backers of the cars mentioned above are also at new companies. Nissan lost its product chief Andy Palmer to Aston Martin, and Infiniti lost its chief Johan de Nysschen to Cadillac.

Automotive News (subscription required) is now reporting that both Nissan and Infiniti will focus on more volume models in an effort to boost market share. This is particularly true for Infiniti, which is still in the early stages of growing its brand in global markets.

Michael Bartsch, Infiniti’s U.S. chief, said no final decision had been reached on the Q50 Eau Rouge but conceded that Infiniti had more pressing concerns, such as rebuilding its portfolio with strong core products. These include the next-generation Q60 as well as new entry-level models like the Q30 and QX30 and a proper flagship based on the Q80 Inspiration concept.

While for Nissan, the production BladeGlider was always going to be a moonshot, the production IDx did seem plausible. The good news is that a car like one of the IDx concepts is not completely dead. We’re hearing that Nissan will incorporate elements of the IDx for its next-generation Z sports car, repositioning it as a more basic sports offering and leaving the GT-R to sit in the powerful grand touring segment.

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