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Infiniti Cars Australia aims for growth – again

Bottom line: The QX50 mid-size SUV could become Infiniti Cars Australia’s best-selling model when it enters showrooms next year, helping to increase sales volume.

Dealer network, SUV models key to future Infiniti Cars Australia growth: Street

Infiniti logo12 Jul 2018

WHILE Infiniti Cars Australia’s sales are down 30.1 per cent year-to-date, to 295 units, its fifth managing director in six years hopes to grow volume in the near future after missing out on a sixth consecutive annual record in 2017.
 
Speaking to GoAuto this week at the official opening of the world-first Alliance National Distribution Centre in Truganina, Victoria, Infiniti Cars Australia managing director Guy Street, who was promoted in May, explained that sales in the first half of 2018 have actually progressed to plan, despite the downturn.
 
“The first three months of the year were a bit of a challenge for us, and we’ve actually seen a bit of a recovery in the (record) April-to-June quarter that we’ve just done,” he said.
 
“So, from our perspective, we’re quite comfortable with the figures that we saw through that time. It was in line with our expectations.
 
“We had a decent June, which was good, but we want to continue now to work with our dealers to help to be able to sell a few more cars as we go through the year.
 
“We’ve worked really hard over the last few months with dealers, in particular, to get them in a position where they are able to sell more cars than they have been able to.”
 
Specifically, June was the best month of sales for Infiniti Cars Australia since its inception in 2012, with 112 vehicles sold – a 49.3 increase over the 75 deliveries made in the corresponding month last year.
 
As such, June shouldered the load in fledging premium brand’s record second quarter, with the 191 units finding homes representing a 39.4 per cent lift over the 137 sales managed during the same period in 2017.
 
Conversely, the first quarter was a struggle for Infiniti Cars Australia, with 104 vehicles sold – a 63.5 per cent decrease over the 285 deliveries made to the end of March last year.
 
Mr Street indicated that sales in the coming months are expected to slow, inevitably following the market’s lead and becoming lower than that of the the end-of-the-financial-year period, but the aim is to eventually return to annual growth.
 
“We want to continue to grow our volume as we go forward, but not (with) specific numbers (in mind),” he said. “(With) the long-term plan, the key is to grow year-on-year, rather than a specific number that we’re aiming for.”
 
When questioned how can the Japanese company continue the momentum generated during the record second quarter, Mr Street pointed towards its network of seven dealers as being critical.
 
“I think the key is to work with our dealers, and really roll our sleeves up and get on the front line with them. The advantage we have as a small group is that we can do that,” he said.
 
“It’s really important that we work closely with them, support them and try and make the most out of every opportunity that they have.
 
“It’s easy for us to sit back and think that we should go in a particular direction, but the key is really to make sure we involve those guys in those decisions, so that they’re actually feeling the benefit of it at the coalface, rather than just being told what we’re doing and having to work with it.”
 
However, Mr Street was coy about the prospect of expanding Infiniti Cars Australia’s dealer network in the short term but open to it if sales were to accelerate.
 
“We’re always looking at our network and seeing if we can optimise it. While I don’t want to rule anything in or out, we have a small group of dealers (at the moment, and) I don’t think we’ll ever have a massive group of dealers,” he said.
 
“We want to just make sure that we can get more out of the guys and work with the guys that we have to help them sell more than they’re doing, and depending on how that goes, we can then look at the future things from there.”
 
According to Mr Street, one model that has been a steady performer for the marque in recent times is the QX80 upper-large SUV, which was facelifted in March this year and sold a record 14 units in June.
 
“QX80 hit the ground earlier (this year) and it’s actually going really well for us. I think our focus has to be on how we can get more out of that and maximise that going forward, which we can do,” he said.
 
“With QX80 being fresh and new into the market, the feedback has been pretty positive, albeit on a small scale. So, now the challenge is to keep running with that.”
 
However, the QX50 mid-size SUV is expected to significantly boost sales volume when it enters showrooms next year, with Mr Street suggesting that it could become Infiniti Cars Australia’s best-selling model.
 
“Clearly it’s an important model for us, but at the same time, it’s important that we continue to focus on everything else that we have,” he said.
 
For now, the small Q30 hatchback and QX30 SUV (106 units, down 18.5 per cent) are the best-selling model/s to the end of June this year, followed by the Q50 mid-size sedan (78, down 22.8 per cent), Q60 sportscar (41, up 2.5 per cent), QX70 large SUV (26, down 74.5 per cent) and Q70 large sedan (six, down 45.5 per cent).

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