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Geneva show: New Infiniti boss backs Aussie operation

And beyond: The Q50 (left) has boosted sales for Infiniti Australia since its launch in early 2014, and the Japanese luxury car-maker is hoping the launch of the new QX30 will be also be a formula for success.

Global boss says new models and more dealers will see Infiniti succeed in Australia

3 Mar 2015

By TIM ROBSON in GENEVA

THE new worldwide head of Infiniti is confident the Japanese brand will succeed in Australia, despite struggling for traction in the ultra-competitive new-vehicle marketplace.

Since the Nissan-owned luxury brand launched in Australia in 2012, its sales have been almost inconsequential, owing to a tiny product line and just three dealers nationally.

With a mere 304 vehicles registered in its first full year of trading and only 441 cars finding new homes in 2014, Infiniti is yet to sell 1000 cars in Australia.

However, global president Roland Krueger, speaking to GoAuto overnight at the unveiling of the brand’s latest production-oriented concept, the QX30 SUV, backed the Antipodean operation, suggesting it was not a fair comparison to hold it up against the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Lexus.

“We have just started Infiniti in Australia, and there has been reasonably good sales success for a small customer base,” said Mr Krueger, a former BMW Group executive who was hired last September after Johan de Nysschen resigned to head up General Motors’ Cadillac brand.

“It’s just three dealers so we’re developing the market, and it will come.”

Infiniti has embarked on an ambitious expansion program that will add up to 10 new models in the coming years in an attempt to take its global annual sales volume to more than 500,000 units by March 2017.

Last calendar year, Infiniti posted 186,200 sales globally.

Locally, Infiniti launched in Australia with just two models – the M mid-size sedan and the FX SUV, now called the Q70 and QX70 respectively following a change in global naming convention last year – before the arrival of the Q60 coupe and cabriolet (formerly G37) later in 2012.

The Q50 executive sedan joined the range in February 2014 and provided an immediate boost to the brand, the 197 cars registered over the full year accounting for 45 per cent of Infiniti’s overall sales.

“We need more dealers, and we will also launch more cars into the market and that will help us definitely,” Mr Krueger told GoAuto.

“You have to look at it from a long-term perspective. We’ve just started in that market, we are investing into that market and we are looking at it in the long term. That’s what we set out to do.”

Mr Krueger – a noted endurance cross-country skier – has studied the local market, and acknowledges its unique characteristics.

“It’s a very unique market. We will have to see (how we go),” he said.

“We are a newcomer in comparison to the established premium brands, and I think it’s going to be a good market (for Infiniti). We just have to develop it.”

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