Cutting through the Bull: Infiniti
Dave Ross takes aim at Infiniti this month. The brand hasn't been a huge hit in the UK.
Infiniti is a brand that's really struggled to make an impact in the UK, even with the might of Nissan behind it. Which is a surprise, as on paper it seemingly has plenty to attract upmarket buyers. Take the FX for instance: it looks like a whole load of crazy, you can get it with a monstrous V-8 and it has Nissan bits in it, which means it won't go wrong. Premier League footballers step right this way.
Unfortunately for Infiniti, things haven't worked out as yet. Most people in the UK are oblivious to the name, and sales have been, well, the less said the better. With around 25 cars each month leaving dealers, they're not even selling like slightly tepid cakes. So the recent launch of the new Q50 -- its premium saloon -- is pretty important if Infiniti wants to change its image and boost sales.
But let's take a step back briefly.
You can't have failed to notice is Infiniti's involvement in F1. I know what you're thinking: "What, that bloke who neatly puts those stickers on the side of Red Bull's cars?" But don't think that. No.
Because those cars are powered by Renault engines, which, because of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, means Red Bull effectively doesn't have to pay for them now. Infiniti also helps with technical stuff, like the Kinetic Energy Recovery System -- that thing that keeps failing on Red Bull cars. Although, funnily enough, they don't seem keen to mention that as much now.
So for all the money Infiniti puts into the Red Bull team, what does Infiniti get? Well, the answer is one Sebastian Vettel, the oft-booed, not-invited-to-Mark-Webber's-leaving-drinks, annoyingly good F1 driver.
He is officially Infiniti's Director of Performance. Which means he always gets to drive an Infiniti company car while Fernando Alonso and his big jaw have to make do with a Ferrari. Poor Fernando.
Now, I doubt Vettel had to apply for this job and go through some sort of assessment centre. But his job description does include playing a crucial role in developing Infiniti's vehicle range. I doubt that means sitting in a Infiniti driving around a load of cones, but he does have to say things like, "I am impressed with the result of the Q50." The poor bloke.
You do question whether Infiniti would be better off spending the money it currently puts into F1, on actually making its cars half decent. Because for all the brand awareness, and image and promotion guff, a lot of people are still stupid enough to buy a car because it's actually good. The idiots.