Infiniti apparently has a lot riding on its upcoming JX crossover, according to a report from WardsAuto. Infiniti forecasts the seven-passenger CUV will be among the brand’s top sellers, second only to the G lineup in sales volume. The automaker also predicts the JX will boost its sales above 2011 levels when it goes on sale this spring.
“It will become our second-best-seller this year, right behind [the] G [lineup],” Infiniti’s North American vice president Ben Poore said to WardsAuto in an interview.
Infiniti isn’t publishing sales targets for the JX, but the fact that combined sales for the G sedan and coupe totaled 58,246 in 2011 paints a pretty good picture of where the brand is aiming. The second-best-selling vehicle for Infiniti in 2011 was the recently-introduced QX SUV at 13,428 units sold. Other models fell pretty short of that number, with the smaller FX and EX CUVs – which Poore calls more “niche” than the “mainstream” JX – each selling fewer than 10,000 units in 2011.
Infiniti is optimistic about the JX’s chances of success, with Poore saying it’s priced “at the heart of the segment, where the growth is.” That market is also where some of the heaviest competition is. But Poore says the JX is “right on top, if not a better value than, the Acura MDX…and it’s right on top of the [Lexus] RX as well.” Poore notes that the MDX and RX are the best sellers for Acura and Lexus, respectively, and that they make up 30 to 40 percent of each brand’s annual sales. “We want volume on this product,” Poore said. The JX will start at $41,400, including destination, when it goes on sale this March as a 2013 model. The 2012 Acura MDX starts at $43,815, while the Lexus RX starts at $39,950.
Poore also commented on Infiniti’s future models, which include an entry-level premium compact and much-anticipated range-extended electric supercar. As we previously reported, Infiniti plans to produce a premium compact hatchback based on the Etherea concept that bowed at Geneva last year. It was rumored that the car would be powered by Mercedes-Benz four-cylinder engines, which will be built at Nissan’s Dechard, Tenn. plant beginning in 2014. When asked by WardsAuto about the use of that engine in the upcoming compact, Poore said, “I’m not quite ready to go there yet, [but] you do the math [and] it’s a lot of engines,” referring to the planned 250,000-unit production capacity for the Mercedes four-cylinder. There’s currently no word on whether a U.S.-built engine means the car itself will be produced in North America, but Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has previously indicated the model will not be built in Japan due to the strong yen.
Poore also hinted to WardsAuto that Infiniti’s Geneva-bound electric sports car concept, along with the Essence concept of 2009, bring the brand closer to a production supercar, which could potentially compete against Acura’s upcoming NSX. What we know of the concept headed for Geneva is that it will feature an electric drivetrain with a 1.2-liter range-extender engine. For all other details, we’ll have to wait until the car is unveiled in March.
Source: WardsAuto (Subscription required)