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Neither Lexus, nor Infiniti will look to compete with BMW and the 5 Series Gran Turismo in the new large luxury hatchback segment. This comes as somewhat of a surprise for both automakers. Sure, Lexus is as traditional as they come, but it did just debut the new CT200h hybrid hatchback (a more entry level offering) at the New York Auto Show. As for Infiniti, it’s never been afraid to be different, as is evidenced by the FX – which is arguably a rival to the BMW X6 and Acura’s new ZDX.
Currently, BMW is the only automaker in the U.S. to offer a big luxury hatchback with the new 5 Series GT. Audi does build an A5 Sportback model, but it’s only on sale in Europe. Recently we reported that Lexus was looking to re-introduce a wagon version of the IS series, but that story came out of Europe and so it’s possible Lexus may only offer an IS wagon overseas.
Asking about a competitor to the 5 Series GT, Dave Nordstrom, Lexus vice president of marketing told AutoObserver, “We don’t have any plans for it right now. We have not seen the demand from our customers — but we continue to look at it.”
The lack of demand seems to be reflected by the folks at Infiniti. According to Ben Poore, Nissan North America’s VP of the Infiniti brand, the company’s research indicates consumers are looking for a traditional trunk.
So until market demand changes, BMW looks to be the only automaker offering a large luxury hatchback in the U.S. – a move that isn’t likely to cost BMW much even if it fails. With the 5 Series GT designed for Europe, where hatchbacks and wagons are widely accepted, BMW can count on strong sales overseas to support a risk in the North American marketplace that may, or may not, pay off.
After previous reports had suggested Infiniti’s stunning Essence concept would never be any more than a shinny piece of auto show metal, word has now emerged that the luxury automaker may turn this fantasy into a reality.
According to a report in Motor Trend, one Infiniti executive, Shiro Nakamura, once again referred to the hybrid supercar as ,” only a showpiece… for now.” This exciting news was then reiterated by another exec, Ben Poore, who said that based off of the car’s incredible reception, the company is still considering a production model and that no final decision either way has been made.
Infiniti has yet to confirm if it will show the car at the upcoming North American International Auto Show in Detroit, but it will be on display at the Canadian International Auto Show in Toronto, Canada in February, as well as at the Montreal International Auto Show in January, suggesting that Nissan’s luxury arm continues to probe the market to see if there is a demand. We hope there is!
GALLERY: Infiniti Essence Concept
[Source: Motor Trend]