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Lexus welcomes Infiniti

Brothers in arms: Infiniti and Lexus will take the fight to the Germans in the Australian luxury-car market.

Japanese ‘compatriots’ aim to break the German luxury car nexus together

Infiniti logo9 Apr 2012

By BYRON MATHIOUDAKIS

LEXUS has surprised observers with welcoming words for arch-rival incoming Infiniti’s impending October launch in Australia.

According to Lexus Australia chief executive Tony Cramb, Nissan’s luxury brand offers a somewhat different style of vehicle to his marque so, together, the two Japanese brands would help convince buyers to break the German luxury-vehicle dominance in this country.

“We welcome Infiniti actually because it is yet another brand that goes at the Australian public’s misguided view that to be luxury you have to be European,” he told GoAuto.

“From that point of view, we don’t particularly fear them. They’ve been in the United States for 20 years and they have never really been able to impact Lexus.

“They’ve had a similar offering – not in terms of product but in terms of marketing approach, where they’ve tried to out-Lexus Lexus in a customer experience point of view, which seems like a strange approach – but they’re offering from a product point of view is quite unique, so it will be interesting how they go.”

Mr Cramb is certain Infiniti will find the Australian luxury-vehicle landscape extremely challenging, given that even Lexus has not yet fully cracked it.

“I’m not sure how (Infiniti) will go,” he said.

“We’re aimed up at the Germans at the moment. If we’re going to succeed to the degree that we plan, then we need to convince the current luxury (buyers) that Lexus is a good idea for them, the same way that Steve Jobs had to convince IBM people that Apple was a good idea.”

 center imageLexus marketing and aftersales boss Peter Evans (left), a long-standing Toyota veteran, warned Nissan not to underestimate the massive challenges that lay ahead.

“I see it as a positive thing because it increases the legitimacy of a Japanese luxury brand, but they’ve got a long way to go,” he said.

“We’ve been in the market 22 years and we’re still the children.

“Horch established Audi over a hundred years ago, BMW have been around for almost 100 years … and that’s a good thing in some ways it doesn’t limit us. We’re not prisoners of the past or prisoners of our history.

“On the other hand, if history is important to some buyers then clearly the fact is we only have a few years of heritage instead of 122 years of heritage like Mercedes-Benz.

“So it will be interested for Infiniti. I wish them well, but not too well. I’d like to see them get in there, but I want them to take sales from the Germans and not from us.”

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