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Infiniti sets out strategy to rival premium brands

Date: 17 October 2012   |   Author: Tristan Young

Infiniti M35h Business Edition

Infiniti is working to a 15-year plan to see it rival premium brands such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes for sales, according to new global president Johan de Nysschen.

Speaking to BusinessCar, de Nysschen, who moved to Infiniti from Audi three months ago, said his priority was not sales but to build a brand.

"I have a 15-year horizon ahead of me," he said. "And I'm going on my past experience. Look at where they [Audi] were 20 years ago, they were patient.

"That's the only way to earn premium status. No premium brand was ever an overnight success.

"The paradox of premium brands is that they are scarce and hard to get, which makes them exclusive, but then they are very successful."

De Nysschen was open about the very limited numbers of cars Infiniti sold in Europe but said he was looking for a balanced global brand: "We're largely a US-centric brand. China is a priority - it's the world's largest market so we can't ignore it. But we can't ignore Europe.

"We have a small dealer network and a small product range.

"At present we only operate in a small part of the product market. We don't have wagons, and no compact premium offering and few diesels.

"Our approach for Europe is to expand our powertrains with modern and high-performance four- and six-cylinder engines. Our 3.7-litre engine is great for performance, but it has a limited market."

He added that Infiniti would build its lower medium car in Europe, but that this was still two years away.

Infiniti is also developing a plug-in EV. However, de Nysschen said this was to appease government policy trends: "All companies should be working on them, we have to do it because governments say so.

"In the US there is a defined quota that we have to do. For China, you've got to have a mix of cars. You'd better make sure there are EVs on the boat next to the performance vehicles."

He remained tight-lipped on how exactly Infiniti would promote itself to raise the brand's prestige status, but said: "Infiniti is a high-performance brand. One of the challenges is that people don't know what Infiniti stands for.

"We are making sure all the marketing is on the same page in the three regions, Europe, Asia and the Americas. We will evolve a more consistent strategy. Each region has been doing different things.

"The marketing team is still working on this."

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