The global boss of Infiniti admits it could have been “helpful” to delay the brand’s Australian launch by more than a year to align with the introduction of the all-new Infiniti Q50 sedan.
Infiniti president Johan de Nysschen’s comments followed the local division’s move last week to slash up to $13,100 off its entire line-up after it managed just 255 sales across the country in its first 12 months.
De Nysschen (pictured bottom) confessed the global and local management teams “very clearly underestimated the competitive nature of the Australian market” when setting its inflated pricing structure ahead of the brand’s launch in September 2012.
“If we looked at price positioning that we had adopted for Infiniti, to be candid, as appealing as our products are and as attractive as the brand is it, is somewhat over-reach when an Infiniti FX (pictured below) is priced higher than a Porsche Cayenne,” de Nysschen told a group of Australian journalists including CarAdvice at the Frankfurt motor show.
“[The price cut] was clearly us recognising that we had a pricing anomaly and we needed to rectify it.”
He stopped short of suggesting that launching the brand last year was a mistake, but admitted there would have been advantages in arriving with the new Q50 (pictured top) to liven up the otherwise ageing product range, comprising G coupe and convertible, M sedan and FX crossover.
“The benefit of hindsight is 20-20 vision,” de Nysschen said.
“It would have been certainly helpful to have a strong tailwind with a very fresh product, but there were also very good reasons for beginning to get the brand established so that by the time you are able to launch cars like this you have some dealer network in place and you’ve got some infrastructure in place.”
De Nysschen stressed Infiniti was committed to becoming successful in Australia.
“It’s a long journey to build a brand. It’s not something that you can expect overnight success.
“We absolutely have a long-term vision and for us that vision primarily is about building brand not about building sales numbers.
“If we get the products right and we get the brand right and we get the ownership experience right, sales success will eventually follow.”
The global boss says part of that success will hinge on the forthcoming Infiniti Q30, which made its world debut in concept form in Frankfurt overnight.
The Q30 will give the brand a much-needed rival to the likes of the Audi A3, BMW 1 Series and Mercedes-Benz A-Class, though it will still be some time before the compact luxury hatch can make an impression on the sales charts.
De Nysschen confirmed the Q30 would go into production in 2015, but admitted it would be late that year or early 2016 before it arrived on our shores.
De Nysschen expects the Q50 – due to launch in November – to be the brand’s top-selling model in Australia going forward, but says the Q30 has a vital role to play.
“This particular segment we think is an important growth market for the future, and so in that sense it will draw young customers into the brand, expand the customer base and the footprint, help us to get critical mass and volume for our dealers, and so in that sense certainly it will play a very important role securing a stronger foothold for the brand in the Australian market.”