LOS ANGELES--Infiniti will face a new marketing challenge when it introduces its first hybrid vehicle next spring, the 2012 M35h sedan.
Since the import brand has never sold a hybrid, officials will be attempting to learn which marketing chord resonates more with its customers: performance or fuel economy.
"The marketing will center on the point that hybrids have always been about compromise," says Ben Poore, Infiniti Business Unit vice president. "You either turn up fuel economy or you turn up performance. But in luxury, people want it all. So this car turns them both up."
But which demographic to court?
Infiniti will use the adrenaline-pumped, late-winter college basketball scene to introduce the hybrid to TV viewers.
Infiniti has been honing its image carefully as the Euro-influenced Japanese performance brand, a rival for BMW and Audi. The new car delivers 360 horsepower from a 3.5-liter V-6.
But the M hybrid also should appeal to people who are environmentally motivated or at least sensitive about fuel consumption. The luxury sedan promises 30 mpg on the highway and the unusual claim of being able to cruise for up to a mile at more than 60 mph on pure battery power.
The model's Web site asks customers to enter by selecting a path, either through "performance" or "efficiency," and even to select a number--one through four--representing their level of interest in the two.
The path leads visitors to details about the car, and customers can navigate easily back and forth through any selection. But Infiniti marketing managers will be keeping track of the traffic to see just how many visitors favor each path.
(Source: Automotive News)