The company says Infiniti cars – sold in America since 1989 – compete against Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus. In the USA, the 10-strong model line up is sold via a network of specialist retailers, but Nissan GB says it will not make a decision over route to market for “at least 18 months”. It will consider two main options: a separate specialist network like the Toyota and Lexus approach, and dual-franchised showrooms with Nissan dealers similar to BMW and Mini, with a view to eventually setting up standalone outlets.
Patrick Pelata, senior vice-president of Nissan Europe, says the company needs to develop a good six-cylinder diesel before bringing Infiniti to Europe, adding that to make it a global brand, the company needs to work on improving its customer care.
“The automotive industry is one of the worst in the world for customer handling,” says Pelata. “We want to make a breakthrough in this area while continuing the pace of product output.”
The decision to launch Infiniti forms part of Nissan’s new three-year development plan, Value-Up, that replaces the current ‘180’ turnaround plan in April 2005. Value-Up will see 28 all-new models come to market across the world, with a focus, according to Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn on “quality, features, performance and style”. He is looking to boost global market share from 5.3% last year to 7% by 2007.