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Exclusive: Infiniti ready for Q30 and QX30 twins

Form a Q: The Q30/QX30 will face tough competition in their respective premium small hatch and crossover segments when they launch in the third quarter.

Infiniti Aus boss won’t talk sales but Q30/QX30 expected to have immediate impact


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7 Jun 2016

THE upcoming Q30 and QX30 small hatch and crossover twins will help open up the Infiniti brand to more Australian customers and will quickly become the fledgling premium car-maker’s top-sellers when they roll into showrooms, according to its local chief.

Infiniti’s first entrant in the increasingly busy premium small hatch and crossover segments, the Q30 is set to launch in Australia early in the third quarter, followed a month later by its QX30 twin.

Infiniti Cars Australia managing director Jean-Philippe Roux said the compact pair would improve the Nissan-owned brand’s standing in Australia, giving it fresh ammunition against the established players.

“From a brand exercise, it is going to be the latest interpretation of Infiniti – from a technology perspective, a quality of finish perspective, a design perspective, a performance perspective,” Mr Roux told GoAuto in an exclusive interview.

“And I think this is quite important. We are coming to the market with something that is all fresh, all new, representing the latest of Infiniti’s DNA.

“The second exercise is volume. It is going to make the brand a bit more accessible, entering a segment that is growing significantly. Especially the crossover part of the segment is growing by 70 per cent on a year-to-date basis looking at numbers for (Mini) Countryman, (BMW) X1, (Audi) Q3.

“It is going to help us drive more volume and more cars on the road which will in turn impact our brand awareness and our recognition in the market.” The Infiniti pair will enter hot segments in Australia, with sales in the premium small hatch market up 14.8 per cent so far this year compared with the first five months of 2015 thanks to continued growth from the main contenders – the Audi A3, Mercedes-Benz A-Class, BMW 1 Series and Volvo V40.

Premium small SUVs might not attract the same volume as small hatches, but the Q3, X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLA are all well ahead of 2015 in year-to-date sales, with the overall segment up by 57 per cent.

While Mr Roux declined to reveal sales targets for the Q30/QX30, he said they would quickly become the most popular models in the Infiniti line-up.

“Those brands have been long enough in the market and have done fantastic work in terms of establishing the brand. Obviously we have some expectation and plans in terms of volume, but I wouldn’t be in a position to comment on exact volume,” he said.

“We will assume that will be turning into a best-seller for us quite easily.” Infiniti is yet to confirm local specifications, but the Q30 will be offered with front-wheel-drive only, while the QX30 will be available with all-paw traction, positioning the Q30 and QX30 similarly to Volvo’s 2WD V40 hatchback and AWD V40 Cross Country twins.

When asked whether the Q30 and QX30 will offer enough differentiation to be successfully sold side-by-side, Mr Roux said the QX30 was “a bit more rugged” and the pair would “attract two different sets of customers”.

“Will some people be hesitating between the two? Most probably. But there is enough distinction in QX30 to make it a different product,” he said, adding that Infiniti would take a different approach to marketing the two small models compared with how it has marketed the Q50 since its launch in early 2014.

“We are obviously looking at younger customer base (compared with Q50) in terms of Q30 and QX30. And Q30, specifically, it is going to very much be an urban customer base … and I think we are going to have a higher proportion of women as well.

“I think from a marketing exercise it is quite interesting for us to try and talk to a different set of the population maybe we haven’t engaged enough so far in our marketing strategy.” Mr Roux said the company had limited resources for marketing but activities would likely include television advertising and promotional activity at places such as airports and shopping centres.

“We have to be clever in terms of how we advertise on the market because obviously there is some limitation to our marketing spend. It's going to be a combination of work that needs to be done in terms of raising brand awareness and this product awareness so I will go most probably for above the line activity,” he said.

“We are also looking at doing things that have worked for us that are very much targeted so we are looking at activations.” As part of technology and platform-sharing arrangement with Daimler, the twins are based on the German brand’s MFA (Modular Front-wheel-drive Architecture) that underpins the A-Class, CLA and GLA, with the Infiniti models most closely related to the GLA compact SUV.

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