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Paris Motor Show: Infiniti to launch high performance sub-brand

IPL G Cabrio Concept

Infiniti is planning to launch a high-performance sub-brand called Infiniti Performance Line (IPL) just two years since the marque launched into the UK to challenge German premium car manufacturers.

The IPL G Cabrio Concept, unveiled at the Paris Motor Show, is a first glimpse of what Infiniti is planning for the new brand.

Jim Wright, the company's vice-president for Africa, Middle East, India and Europe, said: "We are using the show to gauge public reaction to the car and so far the reaction has been positive."

Wright added: "The G Cabrio Concept is a great looking car and can do a lot to get the Infiniti brand noticed. Where we are today, not a lot of people know Infiniti, but those who do tend to know about cars.

"Hopefully we can make a decision soon on bringing the car to Europe."

Wright acknowledged that the two years since the company launched its first cars in Europe have been tough, coinciding with the economic downturn which hit premium brands particularly hard.

He said: “We also had a very limited offer in that we had no diesels at the start. Now we do along with the M35 hybrid which we are also launching at Paris. This will be on sale from April next year.

"We need to demonstrate that we can do well in Europe in order to compete at a global level and the premium segment is very competitive in the region.

"However I tend not to look too hard at what our rivals are doing because it is no good trying to copy them. Customers want an original, not a copy.

"We have to be different in terms of styling while bring sporty and dynamic. We are particularly pleased that the average age of our customers is just 46 years while the FX, which accounts for half our volume, has an average customer age of 44."

Wright said the brand aspires to sell half a million vehicles a year globally in the foreseeable future with a "significant" number of those sales in Europe. Russia will be a big contributor to that.
Infiniti models were selling in good numbers on the ‘grey' market in Russia long before the brand was officially launched.

Wright said: "The Russian market has been depressed which slowed our expansion, but is now showing signs of picking up and we should sell 6,000 cars there this year."

The dealer network through Europe is continuing to expand. In the UK Infiniti has just opened a new showroom in Birmingham with another coming on line in Glasgow next month.

Across Europe there are now 50 Infiniti dealers as the company moves towards a target of 78.
Wright said: "We are still on small volumes so every new site is adding more sales."

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