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Infiniti drops one diesel, considers its future

Oil burner: Infiniti will drop the diesel version of its QX70 SUV later this year, but it is likely to be replaced by a new diesel engine.

VW’s indiscretions shake diesel industry, while Infiniti remains loyal to hybrids

18 Feb 2016

DIESEL engines will remain on the menu at Infiniti in Australia but after dropping one model, the company admits the fuel is taking a bit of a battering in other markets.

Forced into the spotlight by the Volkswagen Group diesel emissions cheating scandal, rivals are quietly reducing comment about the future of the fuel and its unique engines.

Infiniti Cars Australia managing director Jean-Philippe Roux told GoAuto that the premium brand would monitor sales of oil-burning variants in its range.

“We will have a watch and see attitude,” he said at the Q70 sedan launch in Victoria.

“We have two diesel engine models on the market (the Q50 2.2d and the QX70 3.0d) and we see, in Australia, a strong future. But it may be different in other markets.”

Infiniti does, however, plan to remove the QX70 diesel from the local range this year but hints that it could be replaced with another diesel engine.

This week Infiniti launched its updated Q70 sedan range that carried over technology from the previous models. However, the sole diesel variant has disappeared.

Infiniti Australia general manager corporate communications Peter Fadeyev said the Renault-sourced V9X 3.0-litre diesel engine in the Q70 was earmarked to end production only because it could no longer meet future emissions standards.

“It is also used in the QX70 and that engine will become unavailable from the end of this year,” he said. “We have the four-cylinder 2.2-litre diesel engine from Daimler available that is a better engine than the V9X in terms of emissions and fuel economy.

“But this doesn’t mean that all future diesel engines will exclusively come from Daimler. We can also source from the Renault-Nissan Alliance.”

Because of this open-door policy on engine sourcing, Mr Roux said it was possible Infiniti may even expand its diesel range.

“We have to look at the right segments for it first,” he said.

Like rival Japanese brand Lexus, Infiniti gains its fuel-economy advantages by using petrol-electric hybrids and believes hybrid power may be the best solution going forward with new models.

Its key United States market eschews diesel and along with Japan, has been the driving force for the expansion of hybrid power not only for Infiniti but Lexus, Toyota and others.

Infiniti has not announced any new hybrid models but the drivetrain in the Q70 is the same as in the Q50, indicating it can extend into future variants.

One engine that is not coming to Australia in the passenger-car range is the 5.6-litre petrol V8. It powers the QX80 SUV but unlike the US market, Australia does not get the stonker in the Q70 sedan.

The engine is used in the Nissan Titan and Armada in the US and is the basis for the engine in the Nissan Altima V8 Supercar race cars.

“We have looked at the V8 as a performance engine but we believe the new VR engines (3.0-litre bi-turbo V6) have sufficient power and have superior fuel economy,” Mr Roux said.

Infiniti, as part of the Renault-Nissan Alliance, struck a co-operative deal with Daimler AG in 2010 that allows the sharing of drivetrains and manufacturing. Each party now holds a 3.1 per cent share in the other.

Aside from the joint-venture Smart and Renault Twingo car, it has led to the establishment of a factory in Mexico for North American-bound A-Class derivative Mercedes-Benz models alongside the Infiniti Q30 and QX30.

The right-hand drive Infiniti Q30/QX30 vehicles are made in the United Kingdom at Nissan’s Sunderland factories.

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