The day before the Sydney Motorshow last week, Nissan Australia CEO & MD Dan Thompson as well as Nissan International’s chief operating officer (number two), Toshiuiki Shiga, were in Sydney to brief a group of journalists about the future of the Japanese automaker in Australia and worldwide.
Nissan, which last month ranked as the seventh best selling car maker in Australia, is determined to overtake Mitsubishi, Mazda and Hyundai and become the largest importer of vehicles to Australia by 2012. Mr Thompson believes Nissan can gain at least 10 percent market share in the next two years.
In addition to a revamping its model line up to include volume sellers like the Nissan Micra, X-Trail Series III, updated Pathfinder and of course the all-new Patrol, Nissan has confirmed that its luxury brand Infiniti is also on its way.
The news isn’t new, however we now know that the Infinit range is expected to go on sale in Australia in 2012. This will Nissan compete in a whole new sector and take on the likes of Audi, Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The Luxury brand currently sells the G series Sedan, coupe and convertible as well as the M performance sedan and EX, FX, QX SUV models around the world.
Infiniti goes all the way back to 1985 when Nissan decided to take on the challenge of producing luxury vehicles under a different brand. The project was called “Horizon Task Force” and initially the idea was simple, take Nissan vehicles and make them into luxury vehicles for the US market.
Nissan says it began looking at customer-centric companies such as four seasons hotels to get a look and feel of how it should design its showrooms.
It wasn’t until 1987 when the actual brand came in to existence and sales started in 1989 with 51 Infiniti dealers in the USA. Things progressed steadily but it was Carlos Ghosn who oversaw Infiniti begin a period of unprecedented growth.
Infinit went from being just rebadged Nissans to a seperate unique brand in its own right. Producing only rear-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicles (much like BMW).
By 2003 the brand had sold over 1 million cars. This was helped by its expansion in the middle east (1996) and Taiwan (1997). In 2005 it invaded South Korea followed by Russia the following year. From there China, Ukraine came in 2008 and ever since then it has been fighting hard to gain ground in Western Europe. As it stands today there are over 230 Infinit dealers in 15 different countries.
So what about Australia?
2012 appears to be the year when Infiniti will arrive, this is in part thanks to the determination of Nissan Australia’s CEO whose previous position was with Infiniti in the United States.
The luxury brand faces strong competition from not only Toyota’s luxury arm Lexus, but the Germans as well.
It will be interesting to see if Infiniti works in Australia, because if it does, it may give Honda a reason to bring Acura here as well.