The first of 14 Infiniti dealerships will open in summer 2009 selling petrol G37, EX37 and FX models, but the Nissan-owned premium brand is keeping quiet about their names.
It claims those partners do not want their identities disclosed while they are in talks for land to build the high-cost showrooms in fear of it inflating purchase prices.Locations have been found, including Birmingham, Manchester and Belfast, three or four on main arterial routes into London and one in Glasgow that will cover the whole of Scotland.
Each site has been selected for maximum visibility, accessibility and close proximity to premium competition. Most will be new build with showrooms of between 8,000-13,000sq-ft.
“The driving times will capture a large audience and there will be the opportunity to test drive cars on different roads,” said Infiniti Europe vice-president Jim Wright.
Infiniti dealerships will be modelled on a ‘lobby, lounge, gallery’ concept, more akin to a luxury boutique hotel than a traditional car showroom.
Visitors enter the ‘lobby’ area and are greeted by an Infiniti host, who will try to understand their needs before showing
them to the ‘lounge’ area where a consultant explains the Infiniti range.
Customers don’t get their first sight of the Infiniti product line up until they enter the ‘gallery’.
Mindful that land is at a premium, Infiniti is looking at splitting sales and after-sales facilities and allowing multi-tier dealerships.
Once the network is complete, it will also consider infilling via shop front locations where the service is fulfilled from a nearby main dealership.
Dealers will also offer a pick and delivery service for every customer – whether buying a car or a service – with the cost built into their margins.
Wright expects all 14 dealerships to be operational within eight to 10 months before the launch of the brand’s first diesel cars, the V6 FX and EX.
“The economic issues do not affect our thinking,” said Wright. “It’s a long term project and we have two points of fortune: diesel comes later and our volumes come later, so the pressure in the short term is less. We are a niche brand and that part of the market is reasonably wealthy.”
Volumes next year will be in the hundreds. After five years, Infiniti hopes to be selling 20,000 across western Europe with the UK accounting for close to 20%.