Make / Model Search

Future models - Infiniti

Infiniti unfazed by slow Aussie start

Thank Q: Forthcoming models like the Q30 are securing the future of Infiniti in Australia.

Asia Pacific boss says new Infiniti models will rocket brand into contention

13 Sep 2013


UPDATED: 17/09/2013

INFINITI’S senior global management has backed its Australian operations and vowed not to make an Opel-style exit from this market, despite a difficult first year of trading.

According to the Nissan luxury brand’s managing director of Asia and Oceania operations, Allen Lu, the company factored in various challenges before sales started in September last year, including low brand awareness, a limited line-up, marginal dealer representation and the German brands’ domination in the local prestige vehicle market.

“We are looking for a long-term strategy, so we are not so anxious with the current situation,” Mr Lu told journalists, including GoAuto, at the Nissan 360 global vehicle drive event in California last week.

Infiniti has recorded just over 200 sales in Australia so far this year, although the range has been limited to the G37 coupe and convertible, M medium-sized sedan and FX crossover.

The brand’s total sales since returning to the marketplace is less than 300 units, with a small network of three boutique dealerships currently in place – only one of which, Sydney, has been open for the entire 12 months. Its dealership in Brisbane opened around Christmas, while Melbourne was delayed until March after the initial dealer handed back the franchise.

As GoAuto has reported, the company expanded its small executive team a few weeks ago with the appointment of Andrei Zaitzev as national sales manager, but four days later general manager Kevin Snell announced suddenly that he was leaving.

Prices across the Infiniti range were also slashed by between $7500 and $13,100 earlier this month.

“To be a strong brand we cannot chase volume for the short-term,” Mr Lu said, echoing comments made by Infiniti’s global president Johan de Nysschen at the Frankfurt motor show last week.

“There have been difficulties in the first (year) for a new brand like us … and we think the Australian market is one of the most competitive markets, with the European (biased) consumer behaviour.

“(But) we are very confident of the future.”

The regional chief believes the turnaround will arrive quickly as Infiniti embarks on the biggest new-model launch phase of its 24-year history, based on model differentiation and a unique approach to customer service.

“We need to define our products strongly,” Mr Lu said. “So we’ve put the building blocks for the future over the (next) 18 months.

“There are many projects on the go. Within five years we will increase the line-up 60 per cent and double the powertrain options … but I can’t say any more.

“We aim to challenge convention … we can’t just try and do what others do, we need to differentiate, (to) connect with customers who see the world the same way we do and have the same ambitions.

“Some competitors are cold so we express Infiniti as a warm, living, informal human brand, to supply seductive alternatives to a new generation, to attract customers loyal to other brands.”

Among the new models already confirmed are the Q30 hatchback – shown in concept form in Frankfurt last week – and its QX30 crossover offshoot. Due out in 2015, both will pitch the Infiniti brand in the $40,000 region for the first time.

Beyond that there will be a small electric vehicle loosely based on the Nissan Leaf EV, though it will look and behave completely differently. Previewed some time ago as the LE, overseas reports suggest Infiniti has delayed the project in order to release it with cordless conductive recharging technology.

All are aimed at luring younger buyers to the brand.

“We are more like provocation to existing brands,” Mr Lu said. “We want to attract younger mindset customers, so we won’t follow what others are doing.”

Mr Lu said he believed Nissan’s support would help Infiniti find a stronger footing in Australia.

“Australia is geographically in the centre of Asia-Pacific, which is good because Nissan is quite strong in the sense that it (provides) a good foundation (for us to use),” he said.

“We think the Australian market has great potential for the Infiniti brand.”

The Road to Recovery podcast series

Read more

Click to share

Click below to follow us on
Facebook  Twitter  Instagram

Infiniti models

Catch up on all of the latest industry news with this week's edition of GoAutoNews
Click here