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Infiniti Shows Off New Models...Live on Facebook

Sometimes technical "breakthroughs" can be anticlimactic. Nissan's Infiniti division may be the first to debut its product line on Facebook (I expect a flood of email contradicting me on this). Infiniti is a real trendsetter, though: it also used a "virtual reveal" for the new M car at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance this year.

The Facebook webcast of the new 2011 M and updated 2010 G series sedan December 1 originated at the SLS Hotel Beverly Hills and coincided with the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. "The 2011 Infiniti M embodies all of our best thinking, design and quality to date," said Ben Poore, vice president of Infiniti's business unit. "It's a car that we're very proud of, and we're very excited to be premiering it via webcast for the world to see."

The world came, it saw, it heard (the bad sound was the webcast's Achilles Heel) and its Facebook users responded in real time with streaming comments. For those of us who've been through a lot of automotive product launches, the comments from uninhibited users were curiously refreshing: "The Benz looks better to me--.They're wishing they had one--.The M looks much better than the BMW 5 Series--I wanna see the new G interior--They are nice but I wouldn't buy one.. Nothing is as fresh as when the G35 came out-- The new M is going to be a really nice upgrade for the G."

Some wandered off the reservation and expressed disbelief at the brevity of the webcast (over in 15 minutes) and the quality of the proceedings: "That was it??--Absolutely nothing new!--.I blinked and I missed it--.It could have been done much better--That guy is a dweeb--It can't be over!"

Ben Poore said that the Infiniti brand, in business 10 years, "offers a more honest kind of luxury," which may be what touched that viewer off. He said that Infiniti presents "a luxury experience we think is just right for today's more careful and wiser consumer." Infiniti, he said, is Consumer Reports' "top luxury nameplate."

According to Shiro Nakamura, Infiniti's senior vice president of design, "Our expression comes from the power of nature. It is a living force flowing from within." He cited Japanese kabuki as an influence.

Both a hybrid version of the M and an electric Infiniti are on the way, but Poore and Nakamura said very little about either of them.

Some 70 percent of Infiniti's lineup will be renewed or entirely fresh by this time next year, Poore said. I didn't learn a whole lot about the new G and M models from the webcast. Like several commentators, I wanted to see the G interior. But I did learn that the M37 would offer 330 horsepower, and the M56 420. And I heard about new noise-canceling technology and blind spot intervention (drivers are assisted back into their original lane).

I'm sure the new Infinitis will bristle with high technology. That's to be expected from carmakers that debut their product lines on Facebook.

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