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Infiniti is go for Oz

M for mid-sized: The Infiniti M is expected to be one of the founding members of the Infiniti range in the brand's second coming to Australia.

Nissan confirms return of Infiniti luxury brand by 2012 with full ‘tier-one’ line-up

25 Feb 2010

NISSAN has confirmed that Infiniti vehicles will be on sale in Australia by late 2012 or early 2013.

The Japanese luxury division is now one of Nissan Australia’s priorities, after plans to launch it earlier were put on hold as the world entered the financial crisis in 2008.

A full model line-up has been promised, and should include sedans, coupes and the SUV models that are being rolled out in Europe.

Among the likely candidates are the BMW 3 Series-sized ‘G’ sedan, coupe and convertible, BMW 5 Series-sized M sedan, EX medium SUV and possibly the FX large SUV models.

Latest-generation V6 diesel as well as V6 and V8 petrol power is on the list for many variants as Nissan Australia intends to go full speed ahead against Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Lexus.

Speaking of the latter, a hybrid powerplant is also mooted for the brand in Europe soon, although there is no word on whether it will be part of the local line-up.

Infiniti’s return to Australia – a single large rear-drive sedan in the mould of the Mercedes S-class and known as the Q45 was sold unsuccessfully through Nissan dealerships for three years in the mid 1990s – has been made possible because of the right-hand drive engineering for the UK market.

 center imageFrom top: Infiniti EX35, Infiniti 3.0-litre diesel V6, Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Dan Thompson.

Until then, not all Infinitis were created in RHD form, as many were designed specifically for the US market, where Nissan has persisted with the brand since 1989. Since then, and after a shaky start it has become a formidable competitor against Toyota’s Lexus and Honda’s Acura luxury divisions, as well as the German Mercedes/BMW/Audi triumvirate.

Other regions such as the Middle East were infiltrated during the mid 1990s, with South Korea (2005), Russia (2006), Ukraine and China (2007) and Western Europe (2008) following suit. Today the brand extends to 93 per cent of global luxury markets, and is sold in 35 countries.

According to Nissan Australia managing director and CEO Dan Thompson, Infiniti has always figured in the company’s future model plans, as part of its GT2012 (Growth and Trust 2012) program created two years ago to get Nissan Australia back on to its corporate feet and into a period of sustained growth and prosperity. “Infiniti will definitely come to Australia,” Mr Thompson told GoAuto at the launch of the 370Z Roadster in New Zealand this week.

“Infiniti is intended to be, and will be positioned as, a tier one premium performance brand.

“My intention is before the end of GT2012 we will see the Infiniti brand in Australia.

“Certainly we have plenty of support globally for it. And we have plenty of ambition locally to make it happen.

“Obviously it was stalled by the GFC – we were making very good progress a year and a half ago – but obviously we had to reprioritised things, and now that we are moving beyond or out of the GFC, Infiniti will be a priority for us from an Australia perspective in 2012.

“To me it’s an absolute winner, without question. I spent five years working for Infiniti in the US so I know what the brand is all about, and I am very familiar with the product that we are going to have.

“And with the rollout of Infiniti into Europe – it was in late 2008 – that gives us the access obviously with right-hand drive, as well as the entire portfolio (of models) that we need.

“So the strategy is that when we bring Infiniti in we will do it right. It will be premium tier one full line-up and a separate brand.

“And certainly diesel is an important element of premium performance luxury in Australia, so that probably is the piece of the puzzle that we need for volume certainly if we are going to grow the Infiniti brand.

“But either way I am convinced that Infiniti as a brand will work here, and yes certainly, with the Alliance (with major shareholder Renault) we have with diesel, and the diesel eventually going into the Infiniti brand, that’s the cherry on top for us, to be very frank.

“So to be able to deliver an Infiniti brand that is basically no compromise versus European premium brands, but with a value proposition that Infiniti has always delivered in other markets, that is a recipe for success without any doubt.

“But we have no intention to bring the Skyline name back in Australia … (because) this is all about Infiniti, and not about Skyline.

“Infiniti is something that I have been wanting to introduce since day one of being in Australia, so we will keep working at it.

“It’s an obvious opportunity that is here in this market that wasn’t being pursued – and I will work hard to make it happen.”

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