Cars

Infiniti uses Q, QX model designations to rebadge lineup

Infiniti last week announced plans to rename its lineup using a basic Q or QX prefix to simplify Global marketing and brand recognition. The announcement was made by Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti Motor Company Limited, in a worldwide teleconference call.

Starting in the 2014 model year, sedans, coupes, and convertibles will carry the Q prefix while Infiniti SUVs and crossovers will be designated with a QX.

The first model to carry the new badge will be the Q50, an all-new version of the G37 premium sports sedan. It will be introduced next month in Detroit at the North American International Auto Showwhere de Nysschen promises to elaborate on the company’s global aspirations.

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The story has local angles, too.

“We’re excited about the direction Infiniti is taking.The new system simplifies the product lineup for our customers,”said Brian Heney, director of operations for the Kelly Motor Group.

The Kelly family has the distinction of being the world’s first Infiniti dealership, opening in 1989 when the brand came to the United States with its flagship Q45 sedan.

Under the new naming system, the coupe and convertible versions of the Q50 will be labeled Q60 and the luxury sedans (now M) will be labeled Q70.

Changes in the SUV lineup will see the EX becoming the QX50, the JX becoming the QX60, the FX becoming the QX70, and the current QX becoming the QX80.

De Nysschen, formerly with Audi, became Infiniti’s president on July 1. “Over the past fewmonths, we have talked at length with our retailers, our customers, and our business partners about our brand,” he said. “The need for a new identity and direction to promote consumer familiarity with our model range as we expand the portfolio became evident. To achieve this we needed a simple and consistent nomenclature framework.”

Infiniti, which has its international headquarters in Hong Kong, is now sold in 47 markets, but the brand has remained what de Nysschen terms“US-centric,”and he has a mandate to make it a more global brand.

“We’ll be adding vehicles in different markets, and this system gives us a limitless number of names,” he said.

At Audi, de Nysschen oversaw a similar rebranding of that automaker’s lineup. Curiously, the two marques will share the Q designation as Audi has Q5 and Q7 SUVs.

The old practice of naming vehicles with the numbers representing engine displacement is facing challenges, says de Nysschen. “What happens when a G coupe goes from a G37 (3.7 liter) to a 2.0 liter?” he asks. “People will identify the smaller number with a lesser car for the money.”

A Trade for Celtics No. 1?

If you’re really good at something, your fame spreads in the automotive world. When I went to pick up my (borderline) classic car at a Dick Theriault’s North Shore Performance shop last week, there were two mid-’60s Mustang fastbacks in the bays.

“Interesting, aren’t they?” asked Theriault. “One’s a stock 390 (cubic inch) with a fourspeed manual; the other’s a reworked 305 ci with a five-speed manual and set up for racing on road courses.”

Frankly, I’d have traded my ’78 GMC Caballero for either on the spot.

But the license plate on the reworked Mustang certainly caught my eye, especially after having spent 40 years in the Globe’s Sports department. It bore the vanity plate Celtics No. 1.

“I got a call from a lady saying she’d gotten my name from a service manager at Sudbay Motors in Gloucester,” said Theriault. “They wanted to get the car running again because it had been parked in a garage for a year and a half.” They were sending it by flatbed.”

When I arrived, Theriault had rebuilt the Holley carburetor and was listening to it idle with a “don’t bother me, I’m concentrating” look. He made several more adjustments on the carb as the engine ran (to my eyes and ears) as smoothly as could be. Finally, he turned away and put down the screwdriver.

“That’s pretty good for a car with year-and-a-half old gas in it,” he said. My question was simple: “Who has Celtics plate No. 1?”

“Some guy named Wyc,”he replied.

That’d be Celtics CEO Wyc Grousbeck.

Etc.

Jurors in the North American Car and Truck of the Year (NACTOY) voting have winnowed the field to three finalists in each division. Car of the Year finalists are the Cadillac ATS, Ford Fusion, and Honda Accord. Truck of theYear finalists are the Ford C-Max, Mazda CX-5, and Ram 1500 … Ford has gone on the offensive, saying that its advertised mpg numbers for the C-Max and Fusion hybrid (47 mpg for each) can be achieved with Eco-mode driving techniques. However, said Raj Nair, Ford Global vehicle development chief, “Drive like a normal American and you’ll be 20 percent lower.” That’s exactly what Consumer Reports testing experienced …The new E-Class Mercedes Benz models will feature Adaptive Highbeam Assist, which allows high beams to remain permanently switched on without dazzling traffic by masking out other vehicles in the beams’ cone of light … It won’t be long before January is here and with it the New England Auto Show, which will run from Jan. 17 to Jan. 21. Information is available at bostonautoshow.com

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