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Infiniti’s President Looks Back at Year One, Gears up for More

April 2 – New York – Coming up on his one-year anniversary at the helm of Infiniti Motor Company, Johan de Nysschen, the company’s president, spoke with the Media Center at the New York International Auto Show.

De Nysschen has put in place a number of leadership changes with executives picked from locations around the world. Now, de Nysschen says the goal is to cascade the brand’s direction throughout the Infiniti organization. He comments that next up is also channeling the brand’s engineering and marketing prowess in the premium direction. That, de Nysschen said, coupled with broadening the vehicle line-up, including taking it a bit upward, are the keys to increasing the aspirational appeal of the Infiniti brand.

Q1: July marks your first year with the company. You said it’s a big deal to try and separate Infiniti from Nissan Motor Company.  What thus far has happened?

De Nysschen:

Time really flies doesn’t it? I think one of the big steps we have reached is a common position around the positioning and the brand values of Infiniti globally. We’ve had a little bit of a disparate view between the U.S., Asia and Europe with exactly what Infiniti stands for, and we’ve got conversions now around the notion of passion, precision and provocation, and presenting Infiniti really as the seductive alternative in the premium segment. So, that’s been one big accomplishment.

I think, two, getting sign off on our long-term project portfolio, which is really central to the long-term strategic direction for the brand. Those are important milestones and now we are in the third area of beginning to build the organization. We’ve established Infiniti as a separate company. We’re creating a little bit top down, the top executive team, and this will cascade down into the rest of the organization as we transfer the functions and resolve the delegations of authority from Nissan to Infiniti.

Q2: You said Infiniti needs to broaden the line-up. Can you give us clues as to what that will look like?

De Nysschen:

This is the most exciting part. We already announced that we are introducing a premium compact model positioned below today’s Q50. But that’s just the start. Everybody is hard at work right now on the planning for the successor to our acclaimed FX – what in the future will be the QX70, so we’ve seen a couple of design proposals evolving that. As well as what eventually will become the QX50.

This will be the car that really puts us in the sweet spot of the market for compact crossovers, really doing battle with cars of the likes of the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5. But it doesn’t stop there. We are also taking the range upwards. We will quite likely see some very fascinating and highly aspirational models positioned above today’s M, or what will be in the future the Q70, and there will be some really attractive high performance cars that will add to the aspirational appeal of the Infiniti brand.

Q3: Have you seen any surprises, good or bad, as you’ve gone into this new venture?

De Nysschen:

Well, I would rather focus on the positive because those are the things that we can capitalize on. One thing that really very pleasantly surprised me is the degree of professional competence that exists inside the Nissan organization. We have phenomenal engineers. We have great marketers. We have people who really know their stuff and that makes my job easier. What I have to do is channel all of that knowledge and energy into the premium direction so that we can leverage it.

Q4: In your second year what is on your must-do list?

De Nysschen:

There is a great deal to do. We need to continue with the construction of the organization. We’ve set up the headquarters infrastructure now and the organization and the processes. The next real task is to cascade this down to the regional level. Infiniti in a way is organized now as the fourth region of Nissan, and we are headquartered in Hong Kong but with global responsibility. They’ll be, I think, a stronger degree of central guidance if you like to the Infiniti regions around the world to ensure a consistency of positioning, consistency of execution of the strategy, but also providing enough latitude and enough freedom of movement to allow for local execution in a way appropriate for the different markets.

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