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Infiniti to add flagship, boost sales

Infinite possibilities: Infiniti president Johan de Nysschen and Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn at the line-off ceremony for the Q50 sedan at the Tochigi plant in Japan.

More crossovers and a large flagship sedan part of Infiniti’s global growth plans

15 May 2013

THE president of Infiniti has proposed an ambitious global sales target of 600,000 units per year by 2020, an almost four-fold increase from last year’s total of 170,000 sales.

Speaking to respected US publication Automotive News, Infiniti president Johan de Nysschen also confirmed that Nissan’s luxury brand will add a flagship model to sit above the existing M sedan range (soon to be renamed Q70).

More crossover vehicles are also on Infiniti’s radar, with Mr de Nysschen saying he wants the Japanese prestige marque to cover 90 per cent of global premium segments, up from the 60 per cent it currently covers.

“In our crossover range, we can imagine significant additions to that lineup as well,” he said.

Speaking at the line-off ceremony for the Q50 sedan at Infiniti’s Tochigi assembly plant, Mr de Nysschen confirmed a larger prestige model would top Infiniti’s line-up in the not-too-distant future to take on luxury limo contenders such as the Lexus LS, BMW 7 Series and Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

“We will also in the future, introduce models above where the Q70 stops today, the Q70 being the former M,” he said.

Infiniti has already announced plans to build a premium small-car at Nissan’s Sunderland plant in Britain from 2015.

Widely believed to be based on the Etherea concept that was revealed at the 2011 Geneva motor show, the A-Class and 1 Series rival will likely be called Q30 when it arrives in a few years time.

A jacked-up version, presumably called QX30, is tipped to join the range, and would give Infiniti a crossover rival for the Audi A3.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has given Mr de Nysschen the challenge of boosting Infiniti’s global sales to 500,000 by 2016, a task that the Infiniti head says can be achieved.

“I would imagine that by the end of this decade, we would not only breach the 500,000 mark but the 600,000 mark.”

The expansion will focus on Europe and the booming Chinese market, with Infiniti planning to build cars in China from the third quarter of 2014.

A planned expansion of its product in China was put on hold earlier this year after sales of Japanese brands in the communist state took a beating following the dispute between the two countries over sovereignty of uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

Despite the drop in sales of Japanese brands, Mr de Nysschen told Bloomberg in February that he is still confident Infiniti can boost sales in China this year by 10 per cent, with plans to increase the number of dealerships from 60 to 80 by the end of the year.

The line off ceremony marks the start of production for the Q50 sedan, Infiniti’s replacement for the G series that will go on sale in Australia in the last quarter of this year.

The 3 Series and C-Class rival is the first vehicle in the Japanese brand’s arsenal to use the new ‘Q’ nomenclature that will soon carry over to the entire Infiniti line-up.

Mr de Nysschen said that the Q50 is the first step in the company’s global expansion.

“The first Infiniti in our new line-up had to reflect the brand's core values of seductive design, passionate attention to detail, precision in fit and finish, exhilarating performance and a provocative challenge to the status quo. The Q50 certainly does that,” he said.

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