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Infiniti to expand dealer and service network

More to come: Infiniti currently has three dealers in Australia, including one in the Melbourne suburb of Brighton, but more are expected soon to cope with the brand's expected growth.

'Focused' increase in capitals plus Nissan dealer network key to Infiniti growth

Infiniti logo27 Jul 2015

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

INFINITI is working on increasing the number of Australian dealer and service outlets before the end of this year, in preparation for a wave of new models, starting with the Q30 small car due in the first quarter of 2016.

With just three dealerships operating across the country – one each in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, as well as a shopping centre ‘pop-up’ outlet on the Gold Coast – Infiniti Cars Australia managing director Jean-Philippe Roux admitted that the network needs to grow nationally.

“We need to become a national player,” Mr Roux told GoAuto at the launch of the QX80 SUV in Tasmania last week. “We can’t be with only three dealers nationally since September 2012.”“We don’t have a set number target in mind, but by the time we get to Q30 we will need more presence… and in a very focussed way we won’t need to be expanding everywhere at once, but we will need better coverage in Sydney and in Melbourne, and then coverage in Perth. Somewhere between five and 10 (overall).

“It is very much driven by the product plan. The Q30 will enable us to drive more volume… and that means we will be able to franchise out to more potential partners…. such as developing service and parts dealership on the back of Nissan’s dealer network.

 center imageLeft: Infiniti Cars Australia managing director Jean-Philippe Roux

However, a plan to expand Infiniti’s presence in these cities, as well as Perth and potentially Adelaide, while using existing Nissan dealer outlets for servicing in many major urban and regional centres, is expected to grow sales from their current low double-digit monthly average.

In the first six months of this year, Infiniti registered 271 vehicles, which represents a 29 per cent lift against the same period last year when it had sold 210 units.

The Q50 is the top-seller in the stable with 139 units shifted year to date, followed by QX70 SUV on 92, the Q60 coupe/convertible with 27 and the BMW 5 Series-sized Q70 sedan with just 13 sales.

Infiniti's perceived competitors are well ahead, perhaps unsurprisingly given their larger model ranges and longer history in the Australian market, but Lexus has sold 4453, while Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz have sold more than 10,000 units apiece in the first six months of 2015.

Mr Roux said that while the low half-yearly sales figures recorded by the current line-up sound meagre, the result is better than it sounds when the throughput is divided by the small number of dealers.

“If you look at some of our competitors’ sales figures and divide it by the number of their dealers, in terms of sales-per-outlet we are actually not doing that badly,” he said.

Mr Roux said his local team is working on pushing Infiniti in the media and other channels to increase brand awareness Down Under.

“There is more work that needs to be done around putting the message out to the media, out to the fleet world, and more messaging that needs to be done with residual value setters as well,” he said.

“That’s why we’ve been very quiet over the past year because we have so much work to do before we come back to you with any relevant information. One of my targets is to come to you with news of another dealer opening by the end of this year. We are on the move, and we aim to grow in Australia.”

While Mr Roux is confident that the slow-burn build-up of Infiniti’s product and dealer portfolio will yield results over time, he said the upcoming entry-level Q30 hatch that will take on the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, Audi A3, and BMW 1 Series will be the impetus to lift the brand in the short term.

“There’s no silver bullet or magic product that is going to turn us into that,” he said. “But certainly the Q30 is an important one, in terms of brand awareness and in terms of segment potential.” As previously reported, the Q30 will be joined next year by the QX30 crossover.

Both models are heavily based on the A-Class and GLA respectively, coming off the Daimler compact MFA platform and will be sourced out of the United Kingdom.

Daimler has a small share in Renault-Nissan Alliance, which in turn has a small stake in Daimler.

Additionally, a facelifted Q70 sedan arrives in February, while the production version of the Q60 Concept is slated for release sometime in the second half of 2016.

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