Infiniti-Acura rivalry intensifies in three-row luxury crossover segment

Article by Anita Panait, on April 3, 2012

The market for three-row luxury crossovers is slowly turning into a sales battleground between Infiniti and Acura, both owned by rival Japanese car manufacturers. Acura, owned by Honda, is determined to strengthen its dominating foothold in the three-row luxury crossover segment with its MDX model, despite being challenged by other carmakers like Audi with its Q7 vehicle.

In March, Acura accelerated its marketing campaign for the MDX by placing advertisements across the United States, offering its three-row luxury crossover model in a 36-month lease with zero down. The company posted an eight-percent decline in year-on-year sales for the first two months of 2012, selling only 6,444 MDXs. Infiniti, meanwhile, started rolling out its JX three-row luxury crossover at the same time. Infiniti, owned by Nissan, hopes to instantly capture a share of the market segment by selling the JX at a price lower than the Acura MDX and Audi Q7.

According to Infiniti officials, a popularly equipped JX will have a price of $46,350, compared to a similarly equipped MDX that has a tag of $47,490. Both prices include shipping. Sean McNamara, Infiniti's senior manager of product planning, sees the opportunity in the three-row luxury crossover segment but admits that the company has not been a player until recently. To attract buyers for the JX, Infiniti is intensively marketing the JX in a television commercial, especially during the NCAA’s March Madness basketball tournament. 

Infiniti executives expects to produce JX in large volume, en route to making the model as the brand’s second-biggest seller after the G-series sedan, which has been 4,000 to 6,000 units a month.Reigning over all Japanese luxury crossovers in terms of sales is the Lexus RX, outselling the MDX. McNamara said that the Infiniti JX also plans to capture some of RX’s customers, and the brand’s only advantage is that the Lexus does not have a luxury crossover that comes with third row of seats.

According to McNamara, the third row is critical for a large demographic of luxury buyers who are seeking a crossover. Infiniti’s advertising campaign for the JX will focus on the model’s design, which boasts of providing relative ease of getting in and out of the third row, while offering comfort on both the second and third rows.

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