Carmaker1 said:Alright, as I was going to say the other day, be prepared for a very lengthy post:
Since 2011, a number of proposals and business cases have been submitted to the board of management for Z35 program, replacement for Z34 Z.
Nothing has been formally approved and made it into production development. Endless clay models and sketches for years on end, only for Mr. Carlos ghosn to reject it in the end. Whether as CEO of Nissan or as chairman Post January 2017.
This has been the story of premium and sports Nissans, particularly Infiniti nearing a decade.
The future of the brand and Infiniti is something I'm going to spell out.
In early 2017, a fully redesigned Z35 was approved styling and all. As some work progressed on that vehicle program throughout 2017, by January 2018 it was again cancelled by Mr. Ghosn and Saikawa.
The car was very beautiful and one of the most high-end expressions of Nissan design language.
In an effort to save face and keep up morale, Cuban American Alfonso Albaisa, the newly-promoted design director of Nissan Design global worked very hard to come up with a new business plan for the vehicle and ended up with something more viable by the end of summer.
What was the core issue with this vehicle? The act of spending money on a new sports car with new technologies, powertrain, and a new company-wide rear-wheel-drive unibody architecture, was daunting if Mr Ghosn had to approve it.
Replacing the front midship RWD architecture has been proposed in multiple vehicles 2019 Infiniti QX70 and Q80 flagship 4dr. Like LC 500 was lead vehicle for TNGA-L, either of those two had to be that or an all new Z. Since those two business cases were killed, it was left to this car to do that. Be the lead vehicle on a new architecture.
It was not deemed very viable to develop an expensive rear wheel drive architecture that could accommodate an ICE roadster/2-str, all the way up an EV capable RWD basis flagship crossover. Hence so many dead ends.
At the end of summer in 2018, $240 million was earmarked for a heavy revision. At this point the final design and other aspects in the design studio were completed. Nada beyond that point in summer 2018.
At this point, production will begin in September 2021 for November launch as a 2022 model year vehicle. It will not arrive sooner than that and will share quite a bit with the CV37 Infiniti Q60 coupe, being that it hinges on borrowing as many components as possible from that vehicle.
What many of you may not realize is that, the front midship platform is an architecture that made its debut in June 2001 on the V35 Skyline sedan aka Infiniti G35 launched March 12, 2002. IT IS 19, NINETEEN YEARS OLD!!
The front midship platform project on its own was also in limbo so long and a serious undertaking during the 1990s.
As early as 1993, ideas were thrown around on what should replace the new R33 Skyline range and that of the G20 in the United States, below Q45 and J30.
Nissan executives in Yokohama looked at the BMW E36 3-Series, now in its 3rd year since 1991 launch as a competitor. And much more refined car than its predecessor launched 1982-83, which harkened more back to 2002 days of yore. A much more luxurious car than E30 and a preview of incoming E38 flagship and upper level E39, that were trotting around in camouflage on the Nurburgring back in 1993.
Going with a more performance-oriented edge, would ensure success against BMW and stomp on Toyota's milquetoast entry effort with ES 300.
For various reasons, converting the R33 Skyline to LHD for the United States as an Infiniti performance sedan proved to be a fruitless endeavor and not worth the trouble to meet a 1995 model year release. Especially in the midst of recovering from the bubble burst.
In some ways the styling was already too racy and didn't fit NDI chief Jerry Hirshberg's silky styling ethos for Infiniti, including new Maxima-based I30, which had already been designed, but not due until 1995.
In 1994, formal commencement of developing this new rear wheel drive architecture occurred, to be ready in time for 1998. Lower cost replacement for R33 Skyline was inaugurated, dropping RB for VQ.
However, by the end of 1995 plans to develop this architecture fell by the wayside because Nissan's economic outlook soured some more and more demanding programs were made priority.
A redesigned Z33 for the 1997/98 model year was also canceled, as the sales situation in the United States was impossible regarding 300ZX. An Infiniti coupe, styling approved in May 1993 internally for late 1996 launch, was also canceled.
At that point R34 was assigned to a revised car and new P11 Primera launching in Europe, was now being developed for mid-1998 launch as a stopgap G20 for 1999. Unfortunately due to poor timing, it also meant that the G20 would have to go out of production for 2 years.
By 1997, the interim projects were entering pilot phases and the front midship programs were resurrected. In early 1998 what became the G35 sedan was completed in the design department and work was ordered on a two-door variant. Designation also changed to V35, from V34.
Back at Nissan Design International in La Jolla California, Jerry Hirshberg got the idea in mid 1998 to do a 240Z concept for NAIAS. The 240Z concept made its debut in January 1999, but no production program was fully under way yet.
As the spring drew closer, Nissan was borderline hitting bankruptcy. Both DaimlerChrysler and Renault were asked to get involved. DaimlerChrysler opted out if I recall and Renault sent Carlos Ghosn over to Japan by May. He then became COO.
Just like this display of future vehicles back in May 2020, in order to give investors and the media confidence in the future of Nissan, many future vehicles were shown due years out.
In April of 1999, the G35 sedan was among those revealed in an embargoed setting, to automotive journalists at 1999 NYIAS who were impressed by the pop up navigation screen and headlight design, but barred from use of any photography or illustration.
An earlier version of this vehicle was shown in Tokyo as the Nissan XVL Concept, which wasn't a concept, but actually the heavily detailed fiberglass mockup of the new RWD Infiniti sedan, years before it went on sale. Naturally it would not be shown so early, but they felt they were ready.
Meanwhile, the cash infusion from Renault ensured that the FM platform now had funds to be fully engineered and go into production by the summer of 2001. This also meant that the new Z car had a basis it could share the costs with.
Not only V35 range, but a wagon, a new coupe like crossover by 2003, new midsize sedan by 2004, a new flagship by 2006 (canceled). Carlos Ghosn inaugurated his Nissan Revival Plan by September of 1999, which included a roster of vehicles across both brands.
By March 2000, what became the 350Z was approved stylistically and frozen that autumn, I had of its 2002 launch.
In January 2001, the Z Concept was revealed and pretty much the production vehicle, being formally revealed in full in Tokyo that October alongside a great surprise in a GT-R concept. (Now elevated above the Skyline range, intended to be a borderline supercar when funds allowed it.)
The FM platform lead vehicle in V35 sedan was already revealed in June 2001 and not too shortly afterward, the 2003 Infiniti G35 itself, several months ahead of its introduction in March 2002. G35 coupe came in November 2002 and FX45 in January 2003.
FM platform was birthing so many great products, at lightning speed.
Problem is the replacements for all of these vehicles above were heavy revisions on the same platform. Come 2010s, a lot of these second gen RWDs have been killed off, left in limbo. Namely Q50, Q70, QX70, QX50, Q45* and last but not least 370Z.
Because of Hurricane Katrina, developing the current Z34 was a struggle during the design process and barely made styling approval in late 2005, as the corrupted oil substances for the clay made their work difficult.
Since 2008 nothing has changed, as per what I said above. Hopefully you understand why it's daunting to create a new rear wheel drive platform, when customers are not willing to pay for Infiniti products of that nature without demanding incentives.
The Z can never survive without Infiniti involved in this modern era of cost consolidation. Since Infiniti was going for seda, a new ICE RWD platform doesn't make sense.
---R36 GT-R is not in development at the moment, it is on hiatus and will resume in time for a 2026 launch. It is essentially deja vu like was the case in 2001 with the GTR concept being shown and not surfacing until 2007. R35 production ends in 2022.
Other than extremely delayed QX55 next April, nothing new for Infiniti until 2024. Infiniti EV plans have been pushed back in favor of more new CUVs, so not sure what is happening.