Published on February 9th, 2013 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
Infiniti Cars To Enter Japan Officially
Launched in 1989, Infiniti (Nissan Motor Co.’s Japanese luxury vehicle brand) has had the odd history of never being offered in its home market. Infiniti’s worldwide president wants to change that and introduce the brand to the nation that created it. But he admits that it is not yet clear to him how to do it.
“I think it’s important that Infiniti should also be present in Japan,” says Johan de Nysschen, who was named head of Infiniti last year. “It’s under investigation as to what is the most sane way to enter the market. But it’s complex.”
Infiniti has been expanding its list of world markets for the past few years, setting up dedicated Infiniti dealer networks in Germany, Mexico, Brazil and other countries. Japan is trickier because Infiniti already allows two models of its somewhat limited product line rebadged as Nissans to be sold there by Nissan dealers, de Nysschen points out.
Doing that would complicate another issue de Nysschen is focused on: Pushing Infiniti further away from Nissan in their global brand identities. In December, to give greater separation to the two vehicle brands, de Nysschen went so far as to have Infiniti chartered as a self-standing corporation, now called Infiniti Motor Co. But Japan looms larger for Infiniti today than it did 20 years ago because of the size of its consumer market. Infiniti has a goal of selling 500,000 vehicles a year globally in 2017. Last year it sold about 170,000, just under 120,000 of them in the United States.
Getting to 500,000 units is a double mission of opening new markets like Japan and developing products that appeal to global luxury consumers. De Nysschen expects a product expansion over the next three years that will push Infiniti into critical luxury product segments from which it currently is absent. Among them: a vehicle with a turbocharged four-cylinder engine, and a diesel-engine vehicle for Europe.