Infiniti president Johan de Nysschen told CarAdvice at the New York auto show he expects the company’s first small car – which will be inspired by the Infiniti Etherea concept (above and below) – to reach local showrooms shortly after the start of production in late 2014.
A likely competitor for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class, the compact Infiniti (potentially to be called Q30) promises to refresh the brand’s image, attract new and younger buyers to dealerships and boost volume.
Averaging just 15 sales per month since launching in Australia seven months ago, de Nysschen said Infiniti had no intention of setting local sales records in the early stages.
“We will enter the Australian market in such a way that we kind of grow step by step, region by region, city by city,” he said.
“We don’t imagine at all to be a volume player, but rather a boutique brand that offers a high-end alternative to customers that are a little be weary of the established premium brands.
“Australia is obviously a very sophisticated market and we are moving now to become, over time, a more significant global player as opposed to being so US-centric.”
Meanwhile, de Nysschen confirmed the brand’s first electric car – which will be inspired by the Infiniti LE concept (above) and is also scheduled to enter production next year – will come to Australia at some stage, but could offer no specific timeframe for its launch.
“All manufacturers have to look at EVs as part of their future,” he said.
“Some markets are more suited to them than others. Australia provides some challenges in terms of the geography and driving range, and while certainly as in all major cities there are traffic issues, they are not quite as profound as some of the other markets around the world, like downtown Tokyo, so commuting distances seem to be a bit longer in Australia.
“That might go against the early introduction of EVs, but they will get to Australia in the fullness of time.”
As reported earlier this week, de Nysschen confirmed Australia’s next new Infiniti, the mid-sized Q50 sedan (above), will be available with both petrol and diesel powertrain options when it launches in the final quarter of this year.