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Car and Driver: Q Won’t Quit: Infiniti Defends Naming Strategy, Promises to Communicate It Better


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2017 Infiniti Q60We have no doubt the letter Q has its fans, and not just among those who play competitive Scrabble. But this be-tailed O has long been shorthand for the deliberately dull. Back in WWII, Q-ships were merchantmen with hidden deck guns that tried to lure U-boats to their doom, and in Britain “Q-car” is still shorthand for the sort of anonymous sleepers used for either undercover police work or high-speed criminal endeavor.


In short, it’s a questionable letter to hang your brand identity around.


Yet that’s what Infiniti did back in 2013, ditching its former different model, different letter desinations to make each of its models either a Q or QX, with its relative status indicated by the numerical suffix. Yet despite criticism, this naming scheme is not going anywhere, with Infiniti’s CEO Roland Krüger telling is that he regards the problem of being one of communication rather than branding.


“We need to build on our heritage and explain it a bit more,” he told us. “The first Infiniti was called Q45, that was the start of the brand, that’s where it comes from. After that a lot of cars were developed with different naming, but what’s important for a luxury brand is that you have an aspirational hierarchy within the brand setting. Hence Q for a limousine, a sporty sedan, and QX for a crossover, with a number that clearly indicates a place within the hierarchy. But let’s say we didn’t explain it quite enough, to be frank, we need to make sure it’s fully understood.”


2017 Infiniti QX30

This is the QX30 with cladding and a slight increase in ride height. There’s also one with slightly different detailing that’s called the same thing, except when it isn’t.

Quite—even two years later, we still write the models’ old names next to their new ones on our office car sign-out board. More recent confusion has been sowed by the fact that, unlike other markets, the U.S. won’t get a Q30 compact, with the model being renamed QX30 to match the version with identical sheetmetal but more body cladding.


“The QX30 does have different characteristics,” Krüger explains, “a different stance, a different height, and also a different ride. And it is visually differentiated. Nevertheless we have to recognize that in Europe the main segment is a hatch segment we don’t have in the U.S. We’re focusing on that segment in Europe with the Q30, and on the crossover segment in the U.S. with the QX30, although that car will also be sold alongside the Q30 elsewhere.” Got it?
-2016 Detroit Auto Show Full Coverage


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