Nissan wants its Infiniti luxury division to sell 500,000 cars a year across the world, with 200,000 of those sales coming from China. The automaker also wants to sell more low-emissions cars, but it expects a production version of Infiniti's LE concept to account for just 25,000 global sales a year — a relative blip on the radar. How else do you sell more green vehicles? Build hybrids and a lot of them.
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"Every new [Infiniti] car that we bring will have within its lineup a hybrid," Andy Palmer, Nissan executive vice president, said at this week's 2013 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Palmer spoke at a media roundtable with other Nissan executives.
Hold on there. Toyota made that lofty pledge
but backed off
Infiniti would seem to have better chances. After all, the brand only has six cars — not dozens like Toyota and its Lexus/Scion subsidiaries. Two of those cars — the new
— already have hybrid variants.
What's more, analysts say hybrids will gain significant traction. Jeff Schuster, senior vice president at LMC Automotive, expects hybrids and plug-ins to account for 4.3% of new-car sales in the U.S. this year, up from 3.4% in 2012. But just a small sliver of that will be plug-ins. Schuster spoke at the Society of Automotive Analysts conference on the eve of the auto show. In 2019, he estimates 7.8% of cars will be hybrids or plug-ins, but just one in 13 will have a plug.
"I think there's more buzz and hype over the vehicles right now," he said.
Infiniti will have a foot in both pools, but the bigger shoe lands among plugless hybrids.