Detroit, MI — At the recent 2016 North American International Auto Show, we had the opportunity to sit down with Infiniti Motor Company, Ltd.’s brand new president, Roland Kruger. From segment-leader aspirations to where Infiniti stands when it comes to autonomous vehicles, Kruger was eager to talk about it all and share what seems to be a bright and happy future for the Japanese automaker.
Being president of anything is never an easy task, but it seems that Kruger has stepped into his roll at Infiniti quite easily, starting January 01, 2015. Since then, he’s made strides to bring Infiniti together as a team and ensure not only their designers, engineers and executives are heard and kept informed, but also their extensive network of dealers across the world.
When asked what the short-term plan for Infiniti is at the moment, Kruger explained, “We want to expand on the model range, and see any challenges as opportunities. We want to tap into a new customer for Infiniti.”
It’s clear that models like the brand new QX30 compact crossover, and Q60 Coupe performance car are precisely what Kruger is talking about. Answering niche market demands are becoming the norm in the auto industry these days, but few can pull it off well. Infiniti is on its way to answering those niche markets and answering them well.
However, it’s also about more than just releasing new cars. Kruger knows that it truly is a team effort and realizes the importance of his dealers.
“We will invest in our dealers and their facilities, as well as training people,” Kruger explained. “It is a collective team effort, not just a singular endeavor. This is so important moving forward.”
And move forward they most certainly will. But in what direction? When the subject of autonomous driving (two words on the tip of everyone’s tongue in the auto world at the moment) was brought up, Kruger was quick to respond with, “I invite you to drive our new Q50 that features countless autonomous features.”
He’s not wrong. The idea of autonomous driving is upon us and very much here. From laser-guided cruise control to lane-keep assist with steering correction, you could potentially “drive” your Infiniti without actually having to drive it. He mentioned the only thing missing from their vehicles is a shift-by-wire technology, which they are actually working on…
When asked how autonomous driving ties into the Infiniti brand, Kruger explained, “It makes driving safer and allows for more driving modes which is ideal because at Infiniti we focus on the driver and the enjoyment of driving.”
The notion of autonomous driving taking away from the driver has been turned on its head with Kruger and Infiniti, but it makes sense. Letting the car take over to a certain extent so that you, the driver, can focus on the task at hand: driving.
“Driver-centric is what we do,” stated Kruger confidently. And their new Q60 Coupe is proof of that.
While Ifiniti doesn’t follow the traditional automotive trend of performance off-shoots (read: M cars, AMG), they have started colour-coding their cars to differentiate them. And the colour you’re doing to want to pay attention to is red.
The 2017 Infiniti Q60 Coupe Red is set to be a real beast with a V6 twin-turbocharged mill that’ll push out 400 ponies. Infiniti is uber proud of their brand new Q60, and that pride shone through Kruger as he spoke about the significance this particular vehicle will have on the automaker.
“This Q60 launch encompasses everything we are at Infiniti from our brand shape and design posture to the technology housed within.”
And when it comes to EVs and hybrids, Kruger explained that in keeping with Infiniti’s performance-laced heritage and personality, their hybrids will be integrated to allow for more power; so an electric motor enhancement. And the colour code for those? Blue.
“We will focus on hybrids and not full electric vehicles, and there is no plan for a Q60 hybrid down the road,” Kruger confirmed.
With global sales breaking the 200,000 mark, Infiniti really is on a bright path for a future of more sales and continued success. There’s no denying that the Q60 Coupe was one of the darlings of the 2016 North American International Auto Show, and we know we can’t wait to get behind the wheel.