Engine developments key to Infiniti fleet push
18 April 2012
Author: Jack Carfrae
Infiniti has cut the CO2 emissions of its M35h hybrid saloon from 162g/km to 159g/km and is promising a raft of new products over the next four years to boost its appeal to fleets.
Speaking to BusinessCar, Tony Lewis, Infiniti's director for northern Europe, said: "We were primarily a retail business, so the growth has got to come from new engines and into fleet. It's a sensible strategy to offer broad product to leasing clients and we're working with them to get the hybrid in."
In order to reduce emissions and make the M35h more appealing to business car drivers, the company altered the car's thermal settings to make the engine more dependent on the battery during warm-up, when petrol engines are at their least efficient.
Lewis said of the change: "Now we only have 159g/km cars coming and that's the car to break into the corporate market. That also paves the way for four-cylinder cars."
The firm is set to launch a series of cleaner four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines supplied by Mercedes next year - a band apart from the large V6 and V8 petrol units that were initially the only option with
Infiniti's early European models. Lewis claimed that the G-series saloon, when fitted with the smaller engines, will be a genuine rival to mainstream upper medium players such as the BMW 3-series: "The fleet market will want to talk to us when the G sedan gets here with four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines. It will be a stand-out fleet car."
He also revealed that Infiniti is planning an electric vehicle based on parent company Nissan's Leaf but reworked for a more premium appeal: "We'll have an EV in 2014.
It will be a four-door saloon and Leaf-sized. It will have a unique body and will sit on the Leaf platform - but it could be faster."
In addition, there will be a new premium lower medium Infiniti to rival cars such as the Mercedes A-class and Audi A3 by 2015.
Despite selling only 500 cars in the UK overall last year, the company has bold aspirations for the UK market and intends to top 20,000 cars by 2016. Lewis claimed that the company's current tactics of uniform, upmarket dealerships and bespoke service will be extended to fleet customers in an attempt to achieve this: "[Infiniti's] launch is over. Now is all about growing. We want the fleet customer to get the same level of hospitality and familiarity as retail customers do."
This comes as the firm appoints Simon Lewis in the newly created role of UK fleet sales manager. He joins from an area fleet sales manager role at Audi and has previously worked for BMW and leasing firm Alphabet.
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