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Infiniti’s Moscow Moment

Aug. 29 – Moscow – Europe has long been known in the premium and luxury car sectors as the turf of German manufacturers, but Infiniti has big plans for the continent ahead and Russia is already home to its top-selling dealership.

New President Johan de Nysschen spoke with the Global Media Center at the Moscow International Motor Show on the outlook for Infiniti in Russia and across the world.

1. This is your first international auto show in your new role at Infiniti. Can you tell us the outlook for Russia right now and how important the market is to Infiniti?

De Nysschen

The Russian market is really important to us. We entered this market around 2006, and already it’s grown into our third most important market globally, after the U.S. and China. Particularly, if we look at the prospect for future growth – both of the market and of course for Infiniti as a brand – it really underscores how we have got to expand our footprint now.

The Russian market is clearly a developing one and it’s really reached critical mass now in terms of emerging as a powerful economy on the global scene. There is a very significant proportion of the population now that has a high degree of disposable income, and so the luxury car market is set to expand in Russia, in percentage terms  faster than almost anywhere else.

At the same time, it is a unique blend of Europe – in terms of customer expectations and the kinds of vehicles they want – and the U.S. in that crossovers and SUVs also form a really significant share of the luxury market here.

Infiniti, being a somewhat U.S.-centric brand, has a product portfolio that is obviously biased towards  U.S. customer expectations, and so that has allowed us to gain a foothold in part of the luxury market here. And, as we seek now in expanding the product line up for vehicles that are more euro-centric in terms of nature and engine capacity, powertrains and so on, we will capture a larger slice of the available luxury market in Russia.

I am optimistic that the combination of strong growth from the market and a broader product range is really going to set us up well to probably achieve a level of market share that eclipses even that of the brand in the United States.

2. Looking at the country, there is pretty firm growth of 4.5% expected this year. To capture that, Infiniti is going to expand its dealer relationships in the country. How will that affect sales?

De Nysschen

It’s interesting that this is a really vast country and has some off the same regional diversity we encounter in the U.S., but there is such a concentration of buying power that with only14 dealers we already cover almost 75% of the luxury car market in Russia.

What that means is that our outlets are certainly economically very feasible, and we have seen some really terrific facilities being constructed The world’s two top Infiniti stores are right here in Russia, selling approximately 1,500 vehicles a year. So we want to expand on  that.

We will probably treble the existing dealer footprint over the next three years, perhaps even slightly more than that, to really give us reach into the regions as well, where there is significant market availability.

The combination, therefore, of increasing both the quality and scale of our distribution network here is also going to leverage that great product portfolio that lies in our future, and that is part of the reason I am so optimistic.

3. We are standing in front of the Infiniti JX in its Russian debut. Looking ahead, what can consumers expect from Inifinit?

De Nysschen

I do briefly want to make reference to the JX. It’s a car that is really going to help derive the growth of the brand here, much as it has done in the U.S.  We’ve seen strong acceptance for the car globally, and of course it’s nice to be exporting the cars from the U.S. to this market as well.

In Europe we will discuss at the Paris motor show our plans for a premium compact model, with more concrete information available at that stage. In terms of the product concept, I’ve experienced the car now, I know about the powertrains, I’m intimately familiar with the design and the concept, and I honestly believe that our American consumers are going to be very enthusiastic about this car as well, because it is not a conventional car in that premium compact segment. It really begins to create a new product concept that will resonate very well with the young affluent consumers coming out of Gen X and Gen Y, and I even want to take a bet that our American organization is going to be absolutely thrilled with the new product.

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