April 25, 2012
Infiniti Makes China Statement with Expanded Output, Dealerships and Sales
April 24 – Beijing – The Beijing auto show saw Infiniti make inroads to becoming the luxury brand for China and Southeast Asia, debuting cars and pledging to launch production on the mainland in 2014.
Infiniti has already announced the shift of its global headquarters to Hong Kong, and now looks to make two models in China, as well as hike mainland sales outlets to 90 by the end of this year.
Only one year ago Infiniti had but 25 dealerships, and Executive Vice President Andy Palmer says the Chinese push has been a step-by-step strategy.
“We’re doing this step by step. First of all, establish the brand, establish then the brand in China as you would like it to be. It’s basically a challenger brand, a full brand for young luxury customers,” said Palmer.
“Then, we move our headquarters – make sure that you understand the customer requirements in detail, and then start to bring cool cars like this Infiniti M long-wheel base, which is specific to Chinese customer requirements. Naturally, that’s the time to start thinking about localization, where you can preserve the brand value, while at the same time grow the market. Clearly, our intention is to be globally at 10% market share in the luxury TIV.”
Infiniti unveiled the long-wheel based M at the Beijing show, and had the Asian debut of the EMERG-E, a car that stopped the presses at the Geneva auto show.
Deputy Division General Manager Francois Bancon says designing for the Chinese market, the largest in the world, now reflects breadth and diversity, with roominess a key ingredient for luxury brands.
“What is special is that we make the car longer, the wheelbase is longer,” said Bancon. “You have this kind of impressive roominess, limousine roominess, which is a major requirement in China.”
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn will visit Hong Kong next month to officially open the Infiniti headquarters, while in coming years the number of China dealerships will grow to 128 by 2015, with output rising to fill the new showrooms.