Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Decisiveness of a Decision

This past Tuesday, Nissan unveiled the 2009 Infiniti FX, both in the Geneva Motor Show and in the basement parking garage of their temporary headquarters. If you don’t know by now, I’m a huge fan of the Infiniti product. After owning two of them, I grew a serious affection for their unique customer service as well as the performance of the vehicle. It seems like just yesterday when there was a buzz around town about these three Japanese luxury lines. During those times, the commercial was about all the differentiation you could get among the three. But now, the commercials in a lot of ways are somewhat irrelevant.

All three brands have settled in to their chosen positions. In many ways, it’s a wonderful case on brand evolution. For Nissan, and its Infiniti brand, their ultimate appeal is power and performance – luxury obviously being the common component of all three brands. Take for instance the new FX, it can be equipped with a 5.0-liter V-8 engine with 390 horsepower. For the ego-driven person, this appeals to needs of power and impact. For the average person reading the business section of any major paper, it brings up thoughts of $100 plus barrels of oil.

Does this mean Nissan, and its Infiniti brand, are heading in the wrong direction? Who’s to say? For me, it shows a commitment to a decision to emphasize power and performance. The rest will be settled in the cost controls and supply-demand mix. In the end, you have to stick to your guns. Otherwise, people won’t know who the hell you are, much less what you want from them.

Although I would like to see the Infiniti product begin to address alternative fuels and lead the way for energy efficiency, apparently that’s not on their immediate radar. I guess its like pulling a u-turn in a 79 Deville in a tight alley, very little will be happening, but a whole lot will be hurting.

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