Infiniti's highest-volume line, the G series, will receive a Mercedes-Benz engine as part the global alliance between Daimler AG and Renault-Nissan.
Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault SA and Nissan Motor Co., said the G will use a Mercedes inline four-cylinder from Daimler to improve fuel economy and curb emissions. He did not say when the engine would reach Infiniti production lines or indicate the extent to which it will replace Japanese-made four-cylinder and V-6 engines used in the G sedan and coupe.
Mercedes uses a 1.8-liter four-liter engine in some C-class cars in Europe. Mercedes currently uses nothing smaller than a V-6 in its North American products but has discussed bringing a smaller engine here.
Mercedes plans to begin building the C class in Alabama in 2014.
Ghosn said during a conference call with reporters today that his data and Mercedes' data show there is little cross-shopping between Mercedes' and Infiniti's U.S. customers.
The Mercedes engine is one part of a diverse product-sharing and technology- sharing plan to be rolled out over five years.
The three automakers said their tie-up was spurred by looming, stricter fuel-economy demands and the potential for cost savings to meet them.
The U.S. government will require automakers to meet combined car and light-truck corporate average fuel economy levels of 34.1 miles per gallon starting in 2016 -- up from 30.2 mpg for 2011-model cars and 24.1 mpg for 2011-model light trucks.
That mandate -- along with rising consumer interest in saving fuel -- has begun prompting some automakers to replace V-6 engines with four-cylinder powerplants.
Last week at the New York auto show both Hyundai and Kia announced plans to use turbocharged direct-injection four-cylinder engines in their new mid-sized sedans, in lieu of V-6s. Larry Dominique, Nissan North America's vice president of product planning for Nissan and Infiniti brand vehicles, said his company also is considering broader use of four-cylinder engines.
Last year Infiniti sold 47,174 G sedans and coupes in the United States. Sales of the model are up 28 percent in the first three months of this year from the same period a year earlier.