Infiniti Cars Australia is not only still committed to its local market rollout, but excited by the impending rollout of five new or updated models well inside the next two years.
With the three-year mark of its local launch almost here, questions continue to be asked about the Nissan-owned brand’s position — even though the company has always said its decision to come here was not motivated by volume alone, but was also part of its plan to become properly global.
Nevertheless, its local managing director Jean-Philippe Roux says the company is laying the foundations for some much-needed new product, and some solid plans for securing overdue sales and service representation in ‘Tier 2’ markets such as Adelaide and Perth.
The first step is product. In July, the company launches the Nissan Patrol-based QX80 upper large SUV, a tiny-volume offering that nevertheless gives the brand something new to promote. By year’s end, an updated version of the Q70 sedan (formerly the M) will arrive.
But it’s 2016 where the big news begins. In the first quarter of next year, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class-based Q30 small hatchback arrives, to be accompanied by a jacked-up QX30 crossover derivative about six months later. From there, perhaps falling into early 2017, will be the all-new Q60 coupe.
Volume targets remains small — the company wants 1000 sales in 2016. It is on track for 540 this year, managed 441 in 2014 and 304 in 2013. The trajectory is positive, even if the base is low.
“I know 1000 isn’t a lot,” Roux told us, but said the key was to “be patient”.
“The first thing I’m saying is Australia is a strategic market for Infiniti. We’re here for the long-term and I think our product offering and its evolution starting from QX80 shows that we’re committed to Australia. If we weren’t committed to Australia we wouldn’t be launching QX80,” Roux said.
“And I think we’ve been maybe a bit silent over the past months, because we’re conscious that there’s a lot of work to be done on our side of things, and that if we do the basics, and build the foundation correctly, when the products arrive over the coming months, we’ll see some growth in our volume.”
Supporting this will be an expansion in Infiniti’s dealer network from just three East Coast centres in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The company wants five national dealers to support the Q30 and QX30, pointing to the establishment Perth and Adelaide sites, not yet signed up.
“We cannot just stay with three dealers, it’s not sustainable, we need to grow our footprint,” Roux said. Expect also to see additional standalone service sites established, likely based in select Nissan Platinum dealerships around the country.
Roux also mooted an expansion of its pop-up store program, which it created over Christmas 2014 in places such as Robina on the Gold Coast. Roux has held further discussion with Westfield.
“Every car manufacturer is looking at how can we address the fact that Gen Y or X is looking at different experiences. As an industry we look pretty poor compared to other industries, so we need to make sure we try something different,” Roux said.
“We are conscious of our current limitations but we’re working on those,” he added. “As I said, we’ve been on market only three years now, in the overall life of a brand, three years is nothing.”