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Fresh product to grow Infiniti sales, retail presence

Crossing over: Infiniti has made do without a competitor in the hot mid-size SUV segment, but the introduction of its upcoming QX50 crossover is expected to ignite the brand’s sales and increase its dealership presence.

QX50 mid-size crossover to signal dealership and sales expansion for Infiniti

Infiniti logo6 Nov 2017

By TUNG NGUYEN

INFINITI Cars Australia will look to expand its dealership footprint as it grows sales in line with the introduction of the QX50 crossover into the booming premium mid-size SUV segment in future.

While exact timing for the new model, which will compete directly against the likes of the BMW X3, Audi Q5, Mercedes-Benz GLC and Volvo XC60, is yet to be determined, Infiniti senior product manager Bernard Michel said overall Infiniti sales have been steadily growing.

“To give it some perspective, last year we did 900 (sales) and it took Lexus 15 years to get to 1000. So I think we’re headed in the right direction,” he said.

“And that will naturally increase (with more product).

“Knowing that right now, we’re not playing in a segment with about 30 per cent of the market –which is medium SUV – that’s the critical one to certainly backfill.”

Mr Michel would not be drawn on further details of the incoming QX50 crossover – which is still yet to be revealed in production guise after being revealed as a near-production concept at this year’s Detroit motor show – but he did reveal the expected boost in sales spurred on by the new model would also boost the Infiniti’s showroom count.

“You do it (bring on more dealerships) in line with that (more product), so suddenly you get the coverage and efficiencies become much better when you advertise” he said.

“Because if you advertise and you don’t have a dealership in that critical PMA, the leads just get lost, so money that you’ve basically lost in marketing spends, etc.

“So that’s the time that you do expand.”

However, Infiniti Cars Australia corporate communications manager Tony Mee said it was too early to speculate on the number of new dealerships that would be added or where they would be located.

“So from three dealerships 12 or so months ago, to nine now plus on top of that there are three service centres as well, so we’ve now got a footprint across the entire country when it comes to dealership representation and for those that require it, there are a couple of regional areas that have got service centres through their Nissan dealerships,” he said.

“It’s probably a bit early to talk about where we’re going and how many new dealerships come on board, expanding from three to nine plus those service centres in the past 12 months, it’s quite a bit of activity for a small brand.

“So at the moment, it’s good and it will work for the marketplace. How many more come on board? Those decisions are still undecided.”

Mr Michel said finding the right dealer was equally as important as expanding Infiniti’s retail presence.

“It’s also about finding the right partners not always about just opening to the masses, I mean we saw what happened to Opel and closing its doors within the next six months basically,” he said.

“We’ve got Barbagello’s in Perth, AHG here locally with Doncaster and then AP Eagers in Brisbane and across other sites as well, so it’s about finding the right partners as well that share the same vision for the brand.”

In addition to more retailers, Infiniti will also roll out a new advertising campaign featuring Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry in a bid to attract younger buyers to the brand, Mr Mee revealed.

“The average Infiniti buyer tends to be between the age of about 44 and 60, they use the brand as a stepping stone to the premium place,” he said.

“We’re seeing that traditional buyer stepping up from a Volkswagen or Mazda.

“In an attempt to appeal to a younger demographic, that’s the advantage of having Steph Curry.

“We recognise it’s a young brand, so it’s about getting more brand awareness out there and with brand awareness comes eventual sales.”

Although Mr Mee would not be drawn on sales specifics, he said the fledging premium brand – which was only re-introduced in Australia in 2012 – will take time to develop.

“Not so much sales targets,” he said. “It’s a young brand and I suppose the brand is looking for its fair share at this stage.

“It’s a slow burner, it takes time to build a brand up.”

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