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Incoming local Porsche boss switches to Infiniti

To Infiniti and beyond: After 20 years in senior corporate roles for Porsche in Australia and the US, Michael Bartsch is now responsible for the Infiniti brand across the Americas region.

New Porsche Cars Australia chief sought as Bartsch stays in US, Winkler set to leave

22 Aug 2013

EXPERIENCED global car industry executive and expatriate Australian Michael Bartsch has taken up a new job as vice-president of Infiniti for the Americas region rather than return home to head Porsche Cars Australia.

GoAuto understands that family reasons figured heavily in Mr Bartsch’s decision to remain in the United States.

He was due to take over from Michael Winkler as managing director of PCA on September 1, having served as executive vice-president and chief operating officer for Porsche Cars North America – the German sportscar manufacturer’s single biggest market – for almost nine years.

PCA has advised that Mr Winkler will leave the Australian subsidiary in the next few weeks as planned, and that the senior executive team here will otherwise operate as normal until head office finds a replacement.

Mr Winkler has overseen Porsche’s Australian operations since 1995. GoAuto understands that he was offered a senior Asia-Pacific regional management position based in Singapore after the company announced in May that Mr Bartsch would return to Melbourne, but declined, preferring instead to remain in Australia – again, for personal reasons.

Mr Bartsch’s appointment, meanwhile, sees the former PCA sales and marketing director charged with improving the position of the Nissan-owned luxury brand in the all-important US market, where sales have fallen nine per cent this year (to just shy of 60,000 units to the end of July).

Porsche sales, on the other hand, have climbed 31 per cent in the US over the same period, to around 25,100 units and the brand is on its way to another all-time-high annual result.

Replacing Ben Poore, who Infiniti says “will leave the company to pursue other interests”, Mr Bartsch takes charge as the brand implements a wide-ranging model name-change strategy and prepares to introduce key new vehicles, including the redesigned Q50 sedan (previously known as G37).

 center imageLeft: Porsche Cars Australia managing director Michael Winkler.

It is also working towards a targeted 10 per cent share of the global luxury car market by 2016, up from about three per cent today.

Mr Bartsch will report to Infiniti Motor Co president Johan de Nysschen, a former chief of Audi in America who took up the top job at Hong Kong-based Infiniti in July last year.

“Michael Bartsch has a proven track record in the premium automotive industry and we are very pleased to welcome him to Infiniti,” said Mr de Nysschen.

“Michael joins us at a time when Infiniti is going through a major transformation to prepare for a significantly expanded product portfolio and future growth. His 30 years of global automotive experience will be a great asset as we grow Infiniti’s business in the Americas.”

Mr Bartsch has German/Australian dual citizenship and holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from Macquarie University in Sydney.

His automotive career started in the early 1980s as a district sales manager with Holden, and he went on to hold senior positions with other brands, including marketing manager of product, planning, promotions and public relations for Hyundai.

He joined PCA as marketing manager in 1994, rising to director of sales and marketing before moving to the US towards the end of 2004. As well as serving as chief operating officer of Porsche Cars North America, he was additionally CEO of Porsche in Canada from 2004 to 2009.

In Australia, Porsche sales are currently up 29 per cent this year to 1041 units at the end of July. The recently introduced Infiniti brand, meanwhile, has recorded 170 sales over the same period.

Mr Bartsch’s appointment this week comes just seven days after Vincent Gillet – a former senior vice-president at the Starwood hotels group – was named head of global marketing for Infiniti, and 24 hours after Simon Cox was appointed design director of Infiniti’s new London studio, which is due to open in October.

Mr Cox has worked for a variety of companies over more than 30 years, including Peugeot, Ford, Lotus, Isuzu and General Motors.

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