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Next Infiniti Q30 may not be Benz based

Form a Q: The existing Infiniti Q30 is closely related to the Mercedes-Benz GLA but the next-gen car is likely to be a Renault-Nissan Alliance-developed car.

Infiniti may go it alone with the next-gen Q30 as Renault-Nissan Alliance evolves

Infiniti logo25 Sep 2017

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS in HONG KONG

INFINITI may develop the next-generation Q30 small-car separately from shareholder and technology partner Daimler, as the company draws from within the expanding Renault-Nissan Alliance to save on costs and capitalise on efficiencies.

The current-generation Q30 hatchback and its higher-riding QX30 twin are based on the Daimler MFA platform that underpins the existing Mercedes-Benz A-Class, B-Class, CLA and GLA.

Daimler is in the process of developing next-generation versions of all of these models using the upcoming Mercedes-Benz MFA2 platform, with the new A-Class set for release in 2018.

When asked if the next Q30, which is not due until 2020 at the earliest, would be an in-house effort rather than based on the next Daimler platform, Infiniti vice-president of product strategy Francois Bancon revealed that there were now sufficient resources within for the Japanese luxury brand to develop a successor, independent of the German car-maker.

“Probably,” he told GoAuto in Hong Kong last week. “I don’t know, and we still have time to decide this. But I’m not sure this is something for the long-term future.

“I’m not telling you that the next generation we are going to stop to collaborate with Daimler. If you take a step back, it was very good to (embark on the collaboration) because we made it happen… but now, if you consider all that is available in terms of technology, powertrain, transmission and so on, and together with electronic technology and software, in this C-segment this is where the Alliance is the most powerful in the world.”

Mr Bancon revealed that achieving the greatest amount of efficiency with the limited resources available would dictate the decision Infiniti makes as to what the next Q30 will be based on when it comes on stream early in the next decade.

“We should step back and say: ‘What do we have (within the Alliance) that is more affordable and timelier, rather than going to Daimler?’,” he explained, adding that the Mercedes is comparatively new to small cars, especially compared to the combined expertise of Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi.

“Daimler has never been a specialist of the C-segment, they are more ‘E’ and larger,” Mr Bancon said. “And so, they might not be the most optimum partner in the future.

“It’s not being negative with Daimler. It’s just a fact even they are absolutely very humble about this. Their cup of tea, as we say in French, is not the C-segment they are great in the D- and E-segment. And they don’t need us for the (next A-Class) and we don’t need them.

“So, we are re-questioning all of this now, just for the sake of efficiency, and Daimler understands this very well.”

Both Daimler and Infiniti have been dodging growing speculation about the future of their small-car collaboration since reports quoting unnamed sources within Infiniti stated that the cost of the new MFA2 platform is too expensive for Infiniti to buy emerged earlier this year.

At the time Renault-Nissan Alliance CEO Carlos Ghosn refuted the claims, saying the partnership “is going very well”, although he signalled that changes were in the pipeline for both companies.

Although the current Q30 and its QX30 crossover twin unveiled two years ago employ the MFA platform and powertrain technologies first seen in the original A-Class of 2012, they are built at Nissan’s refurbished Sunderland plant in the United Kingdom, while the donor Mercedes models and their MFA2 successors are made in Germany, Hungary, Finland and – soon – in Mexico.

The latter plant is a $US2 billion joint-venture facility between the Alliance and Daimler to produce a variety of models for both companies in the future, however what this means for the Q30/QX30 replacements is not yet known.

Should the next Q30 become an Alliance-only project it would most likely be spun off the architecture of the Renault Megane, which is currently based on the CMF/CD platform that also serves (among others) the brand’s Espace, Kadjar and Koleos crossovers, as well as the Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail.

As announced earlier this month as part of Alliance 2022, the aim is to produce over nine million vehicles by that time spread across the various brands (that also include low-cost Datsun and Dacia) employing four platforms, with three-quarters of them to use common powertrains.

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