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Infiniti here for now and beyond

On the way: Infiniti's M sedan will be among the brand's inaugural models when sales kick off in Australia.

Nissan says Infiniti brand is in “for the marathon not the sprint” Down Under

23 Mar 2011

LUXURY INTERLOPER Infiniti says sales will kick off slowly with a limited range of vehicles when it lands here from September next year, as the brand builds it unique premium-Japanese attributes in a crowded market.

According to general manager Kevin Snell, the slow-burn approach is to get consumers accustomed to the differences Infiniti offers, including unique product propositions, a boutique hotel approach to the dealership experience, and an unprecedented level of after-sales service.

Refusing to talk sales aspirations, Mr Snell insisted that achieving high volumes is not the priority in the first few years of Infiniti’s Australian debut, as the marque works to establish its name with three core products – the mid-size FX SUV/crossover, large M-series luxury/sports sedan, and the smaller G37 Convertible and Coupe.

It will also initially concentrate on just three high-end stand-alone showrooms in Australia, located in “luxury precincts” of Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

A second ‘expansion’ phase will coincide with more volume-orientated models from 2014 (the V37 G-series sedan and an entry-level hatch in the vein of the Audi A3, as previewed at this month’s Geneva motor show’s Infiniti Etherea concept), while more dealers are mooted in areas such as Perth, Adelaide and on Queensland’s Gold Coast.

16 center imageFrom top: Infiniti G coupe, G convertible, G sedan, Etherea concept.

Infiniti custodian Nissan says it is only when a complete model line-up is in situ – including an Infiniti electric vehicle that leverages the Lithium-Ion battery technology pioneered by the Nissan Leaf – will a ‘sustainable growth’ period arrive, and that won’t be before the 2016 to 2020 period.

“We are in this for the long haul,” Mr Snell said. “We realise that there is no quick or cheap way to break into the luxury car market.”

Asked why people would choose an Infiniti over a BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi or Lexus, Mr Snell said he believes Infiniti’s core strengths are clear in a market that has become homogenous over the last few years.

“The key differences with our cars is that they are dramatic in proportion as well as driver-orientated,” Mr Snell said.

“We offer a unique Japanese hospitality philosophy – more individual, more personal customer care. It is for people who want something different as well as something individual.

“Infiniti is also progressive and edgy.”

Mr Snell denied there is any danger of the Nissan connection sullying Infiniti’s reputation against BMW and Benz, as well as with Germany’s third premium player, Audi, and arguably its most direct rival, Lexus, both of which continue to attract comparisons with their respective Volkswagen and Toyota parents.

“I don’t think there will be any stigma. Infiniti vehicles come from their own plants and have their own unique designs.”

Putting aside the brand’s unsuccessful foray into the upper large luxury sedan market in the early 1990s against the Lexus LS400 and Mercedes-Benz S-class with the Jaguar-like Q45, the Infiniti story in Australia started two and a half years ago when Dan Thompson arrived to head Nissan’s local operations.

However, the worsening global financial crisis at the time put planning on hold until the beginning of last year, when Mr Thompson and his team resumed work on returning the brand to Australia, in line with Infiniti’s global expansion plans.

“Everything we do is working towards Infiniti’s 2020 goal (of being an established player in Australia),” Mr Thompson said.

“And investment from (Nissan headquarters) in Japan has been unending… that’s why we can launch with the models that we intend to, with diesel available from the start.

“It is all part of making Infiniti a much bigger global brand by the end of 2012,” he added.

What’s coming from Infiniti:
S51 FX - Q3 2012
Y51 M - Q3 2012
V36 G37 Coupe – Q3 2012
V36 G37 Convertible - Q3 2012
V37 G sedan - 2013
‘Etherea’ compact hatch - 2014
EV sedan - 2014

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