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Infiniti snags BMW’s Krueger as global chief

Sporty credentials: As well as being a high-level executive for BMW in Europe and Asia, Roland Krueger is one of the few people – and the first German – to have trekked to the South Pole unsupported and unassisted.

Nissan re-establishes leadership at Infiniti luxury brand with experienced BMW exec

Infiniti logo18 Sep 2014

By TERRY MARTIN

NISSAN has hired former senior BMW Group executive Roland Krueger as global president of its Infiniti luxury brand.

Replacing Johan de Nysschen who moved to General Motors in July to head up the Cadillac brand, Mr Krueger becomes a senior vice-president of Nissan Motor Co and will be based at Infiniti headquarters in Hong Kong, reporting directly to Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn.

His appointment came just days after the resignation of one of Nissan’s top global executives, Andy Palmer, who was chairman of Infiniti and had been running the division in the wake of Mr de Nysschen’s departure.

As GoAuto has reported, Mr Palmer has now returned to Britain as Aston Martin’s new chief executive.

Responsibility for Infiniti subsequently fell to Nissan North America chief executive Jose Munoz, although Mr Ghosn has moved quickly to shore up the leadership of the luxury marque as it attempts to move in on the dominant global premium brands – particularly BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi – and reach its ambitious target of 500,000 annual sales in the financial year ending March 31, 2017.

By that time, Nissan aims to have Infiniti represented in more than 70 markets with a product range of at least 10 model lines, expanding to 13 – understood to comprise eight sedans/coupes and five crossovers/SUVs – by the end of the decade.

One of these is an all-new Q80 flagship to be previewed at the Paris motor show early next month, while global sales this calendar year were up 30 per cent in the first half, to around 101,000 units.

In Australia, Infiniti has struggled since its launch here in 2012, managing only 300 sales in its first full year of trading (2013). It has improved on this in 2014 with the launch of the Q50 mid-size sedan, although 280 sales for the brand so far this year – 133 of which are Q50s – sees it remain well behind its rivals.

Mr Krueger, 48, was most recently a senior vice-president at BMW Group in charge of operations in the German market and will bring more than two decades’ automotive industry experience with not only BMW, but also Mercedes parent Daimler and Mitsubishi Motors Europe.

“Roland Krueger has a consistent record of high performance in the premium automotive sector,” Mr Ghosn said.

“He brings unique leadership skills that will accelerate Infiniti’s progress in the global premium market.” Mr Krueger is a qualified industrial designer and entered the automotive industry in 1992 as a designer for Mitsubishi Motors Europe, based in Germany.

He joined the Daimler Group in 1994 as a senior designer, working primarily on the interior of Smart models, and eventually became senior designer in the strategic planning group.

He joined BMW in 1998 as a manager of strategic product planning and quickly moved through the ranks, heading the product and price planning area for the Asia-Pacific, Africa and East Europe region, heading regional marketing for the same division and later serving as managing director of the BMW Group in Asia.

In 2008 he was named president and CEO of BMW Group Japan, a position he held for almost five years before returning to Germany last year as head of BMW’s all-important domestic market.

Before taking up his most recent position, Mr Krueger made headlines by becoming the first German to make a solo trek to the South Pole, skiing 890km in temperatures as low as -25 degrees Celsius over 49 days – without assistance from dogs, motors or food deliveries.

That made him one of the few people to have trekked to the South Pole unsupported and unassisted.

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