When in Rome, do as the Romans do! When in Japan, do as the other Japanese automakers do. Thus we have the story of the Infiniti brand, Nissan’s answer to the highly successful Lexus brand by Toyota and the Acura brand by Honda.
Introduced in 1989, a couple years behind their competitors, Infiniti was aimed at the premium segments in the U.S. that did not fit into the mainstream Nissan lineup. From the start Nissan had marketing problems with the Infiniti. The original commercials aimed at a Zen feel to the Infiniti without actually showing the car. It was not successful. The original Infiniti offerings were the Q45 and the M30, and they fell far short of expectations. They both were basically redesigned Nissan Presidents, and their main competition came from the Mercedes S-Class, the BMW 7 Series, the Jaguar XJ, and the Cadillac Fleetwood.
From the very beginning, Infiniti suffered from image problems. In 1990 they introduced the 2-door M30, an alternative to the Lexus SC. Unfortunately, it weighed too much and was underpowered for its weight. In addition, Infiniti did not offer a mid-sized sedan to match the Acura Legend, and that turned out to be a poor decision, especially after Lexus responded with the Lexus GS, a highly popular car.
In 1991 Infiniti offered their third model, the Infiniti G20, and in 1993 they produced the J30, a four-door coupe with only one engine option. By the mid-90’s Infiniti was running a poor third to Acura and Lexus, and it had no answer for the popular Acura Integra.
Finally, in 1997, Infiniti introduced the QX4, a mid-sized luxury SUV, and they experienced their first success in the market. Since then, Infiniti has re-designed most of their lineup, and sales have improved considerably.
There is no doubt that the Infiniti is marked by superior craftsmanship; this is, after all, a Nissan product, and we have come to expect superior quality from Nissan. Replacement parts are superior in quality as well, and plentiful for the home mechanic who wants to tinker with his car by himself. Finding recycled auto parts for the Infiniti is as easy as going to your nearest salvage yard. Places like All Import Auto Parts are fully stocked with used parts for the Infiniti models.
All in all, the Infiniti brand is a mistake turned success. Maybe not a wild success, but a success nonetheless.