Nissan fleet operation to market Infiniti
06 October 2011
Premium brand Infiniti is to be marketed through the fleet sales teams of parent manufacturer Nissan in the UK as it embarks on an ambitious growth strategy.
The company currently sells less than 1000 cars in the UK, but is planning on getting to 20,000 by 2016. "In the UK we are very ambitious, we want to multiply by more than 20 in five years," Infiniti European vice president Bernard Loire told BusinessCar. "Some people may think that we are mad, but we will try and show that we are not."
In the UK that means utilising the existing Nissan corporate sales structure. "We need to be perceived as a separate brand, not Nissan-plus, but there are some areas where there will be a lot of benefits and fleet is one," said Loire. "Nissan could keep a customer within the family if senior executives want a premium car. I really believe it is a positive synergy for both brands."
But Loire said that doesn't mean Infinitis will be sold through Nissan and its dealer network. "It needs to remain an Infiniti experience for the fleet customer," he said. "We don't have any overlap so it's purely complimentary for Nissan and a great opportunity for Infiniti."
Loire admitted that getting Nissan's sales force on-board with Infiniti will require training. "It requires some time. We have incentives but often it's about management and human beings - we will have some people excited about Infiniti and I'm sure we will struggle to get others on board," he said. "I can't tell you everything will be perfect just because we give them money - it's not all about incentives." The current four-site dealer network of London Piccadilly, Reading, Birmingham and Glasgow will be expanded by adding Stockport and Leeds before the end of the year, with the aim of at least another six on the way in 2012 to a target of up to 30 in the future.
The current range of larger cars with powerful engines will be extended downwards over the next few years, with four-cylinder diesel engines, and new models planned to increase the share of the market the brand is fighting in. "Four-cylinder petrol or diesel is obviously important in the fleet market," he said, while also confirming a lower medium electric model in 2013 or 2014, and an Audi A3-sized vehicle shortly afterwards.
"The UK market is very important, second in European luxury sales after Germany, and we feel we can do something in this market," said Loire. "Today we are playing the entry roll of the game."
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