Inertia Report: Why Infiniti Decided Not to Build the Q50 Eau Rouge
Introduced at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge was seemingly the answer to Infiniti's problem. The problem is that they were a performance-oriented luxury brand, owned by Nissan with ties to NISMO, and still lacked anything worthy of being a contender in the market. Not to say Infiniti was doing poorly, they are a fairly successful brand, but there is always room for growth.
Fast forward to 2014, and we thought the answer lied in the name Eau Rouge. Fast forward another year, and in December of 2015, we were told by Infiniti's vice president that it was too "costly." I call bull on that claim though. I got my hands on former Infiniti boss Johan de Nysschen to have a conversation. It started out casual over a cup of espresso at Cadillac House, but when the Eau Rouge subject popped up, I got an interesting response.
Johan vaguely blamed Infiniti's vice president Noboru Tateishi. I honestly thought he was joking, but a Car & Driver article confirms it. Johan told me that Noboru didn't have what it takes to stand up to the board or the shareholders. He then said he wouldn't say anything else and we started talking about how awesome the Cadillac CTS-V was. So without further ado, here is why the Infiniti Q50 Eau Rouge actually didn't happen. It is a long story filled with multiple reasons. Some are very stupid.
The Bad and the Ugly: Is Anything Good?
Now here are some of the actual reasons why the Eau Rouge was so brutally murdered before it could see the light of day. For starters, I cannot express any more clearly how important meetings are. There was some confusion at Infiniti about the Q50's launch back in back in 2014. Would it be considered a midsize luxury car with the BMW 5-Series and E-Class, or be an entry-level luxury car like the 3-Series and C-Class? The problem with the first one is an issue of dimensions. The car just wasn't large enough.
But why was it considered? Because Infiniti still wasn't sure if the Q50 was replacing the G series which was still in production. It was eventually decided the G series, in sedan form, would be discontinued and replaced by the Q50. This is a problem I can believe is true, as Infiniti currently has that problem with the Q70. But, with the issue of sizing out of the way, they decided to focus on making the Eau Rouge.
This is where new mechanical issues arise. Infiniti didn't want to start a HP war, and this most definitely would have. At 560 HP, it would've made more power than anything in its class. The competition (BMW M3, Cadillac ATS- V) were all 400+ HP cars. And the closest thing right now id the Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio with 505 HP. The Eau Rouge would be making power in line with the BMW M5 & Mercedes-AMG E63. Technically, that means it would compete out of its class, and that is something Infiniti didn't want.
Also, the engine is the same one in the Nissan GT-R. And those are engines that are hand-built by master engine builders. Using the engine for another car, the Eau Rouge, in this case, would hurt either GT-R sales, Eau Rouge sales or both. The technology needed to make the Eau Rouge's active convenient exhaust would cost some money too. The cost kept adding up to the point where it would cost too much to have a serial mass production run. Finally, there is the issue of having a board. With Infiniti getting rid of President Johan de Nysschen, the idea of the Eau Rouge slowly died too. It went into a coma for a bit, fighting a battle to stay alive or die. The Eau Rouge obviously lost. Infiniti "came to their senses" and scraped the project officially at the end of 2015. The real issue is though, despite being owned by Nissan, one of the few Japanese auto manufacturers that still make performance cars, Infiniti apparently has no interest in a performance division. Their IPL lineup was rushed & half-assed. It focused more on cosmetics than actual performance. Eau Rouge could've become a performance division like AMG is to Mercedes Benz. And that scared investors or shareholders, who would have had to invest more money than they'd instantly get back. This isn't even the first time Infiniti has backed out of making a solid performance car.
But what power does the board have? A board of directors is elected by the shareholders, and the CEO is elected by that board. The CEO’s job is to make sure those shareholders stay happy. The shareholders apparently didn't like the Eau Rouge idea, so they asked VP Noboru to fix it. This “fix” kind of got Johan removed, but hey, at least Cadillac is doing good.
At the end of the day, Infiniti's board of directives is the reason we were robbed of a good car. To summarize, greed. It would've cost a lot to make, but if you sold Eau Rouge's like Volvo sells Polestars, it would've worked. Or sell them like E63 wagons and make them upon request.
© 2017 Joshua Nightshade