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Nissan considers Infiniti return

Made for the USA: Infiniti currently sells only in North America.

Nissan Australia considers the return of the Infiniti luxury brand

7 May 2004

INFINITI, the Nissan luxury brand that was tried and failed in Australia in the 1990s, could be making a comeback here.

New Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Shinya Hannya confirmed the possibility during a ‘meet the press’ lunch earlier this week.

Mr Hannya took over the top jobs at Nissan Australia from Leon Daphne on April 1.

"That (Infiniti) is one of the things I would like to study. If it makes good business sense and if there is opportunity to have Infiniti here. Right now we have a clean piece of paper, we have nothing," he said.

Mr Hannya intends that the study be completed and back with corporate headquarters in Japan by the end of the current Nissan fiscal year, which concludes on March 31, 2005.

"If we make a business case to have Infiniti here then we can tell our headquarters we are interested and then it’s up to them to decide if they want to bring Infiniti into Australia or not," Mr Hannya said.

12 center imageInfiniti currently sells only in North America but Nissan announced last week its intention to turn it into a global brand with the initial focus on entry into Japan, South Korea, Russia, China and eventually Europe. But Australia has not been designated as a priority expansion market for Infiniti because of the market size and potential.

Nissan Australia marketed the Infiniti Q45 model in Australia between September 1993 and January 1997. Very much a toe-in-the-water exercise sold through just four dealers, the 4.5-litre V8 was introduced at a retail price of $140,610 and was $147,700 by the time it departed the market.

Pitched against the likes of the BMW 7 Series, Mercedes-Benz S-class and fellow Japanese newcomer Lexus LS400, the Q45 failed to inspire buyer interest.

Infiniti also struggled in its early days in the US, where it was introduced in 1989. But nowadays, with a full line-up that has been regenerated alongside Nissan’s range – including sedan, coupe, cross-over and off-roader variants – it has proved a sales success.

"Infiniti to me is not a high priority at this point," cautioned Mr Hannya. "Growing the Nissan brand is a higher priority for me."He said re-badging specific Inifiniti models for Australia as Nissans would be possible: "It would take a lot of discussion".

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