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Detroit show: Infiniti Australia sales “unsustainable”

New chapter: The Infiniti Q50, some versions of which use Daimler engines, will be a key to growth beyond its bread-and-butter markets.

Global Infiniti boss says Australian sales are a problem, but a fix is on the way

Infiniti logo15 Jan 2014

By MIKE COSTELLO in DETROIT

INFINITI’S global president Johan de Nysschen has conceded the company's lacklustre Australian sales levels are unsustainable, but says the brand is staying put.

Instead, the company projects it will attain growth through the introduction of what Mr de Nysschen calls “more relevant” models than the “US-centric” portfolio of G, M and FX Series cars currently on offer.

Nissan’s luxury arm, which launched in Australia in September 2012, recorded just 304 sales in 2013, and dramatically cut its prices just 12 months after launch. Fellow premium struggler Opel, which launched locally at the same time, has already withdrawn following slow sales.

“It’s obviously not sustainable,” said former Audi chief Mr de Nysschen, speaking to Australian media at the Detroit motor show premiere of the hot Q50 Eu Rouge. “I think we need to launch cars that resonate with consumers.”“The Q50 is the first shot, and also powertrains that are relevant for the Australian consumer, diesels and smaller capacity turbo cars, these will go a long way to producing a product portfolio that is more relevant to the US-centric portfolio that has been available.”

The imminent new additions will be led by the new BMW 3 Series-rivalling Q50 sedan, to launch in Australia next month for $51,900 when powered by a Daimler-sourced turbo-diesel.

The Q30 small-car will follow in 2015, with Mercedes-Benz A-Class underpinnings. There will also be a jacked-up crossover version in the fashion of Mercedes’ own GLA-Class, that will likely to get the QX30 moniker.

The decision to remain in Australia comes as part of the brand’s increasingly outward focus beyond its US stronghold. It currently retails in around 50 countries, but has big plans to grow.

The company now has a dedicated London design studio to better adhere to trendsetting European designs. As we’ve reported, the hub in the British capital will focus beyond the US-orientated product that has defined the brand’s existence since launching in North America exactly 25 years ago.

This European addition followed the recent relocation of Infiniti’s global headquarters to Hong Kong, in a move designed to give the Nissan luxury brand more autonomy from the parent company.

The aim is to be less Lexus-like and more Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz targeted, backed up with a wave of fresh product that will increase the number of models by about 60 per cent and double the current drivetrain choices.

In addition, a new design centre will open in Beijing next April.

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