Nissan: Building Infiniti into top tier premium brand

Joint development and production with Daimler of new compact cars in Mexico



Q80 Inspiration Concept
The Q80 Inspiration Concept exhibited at the Paris Motor Show in October 2014 (photo by Nissan)

 Nissan is revamping the Infiniti brand in terms of both quality and quantity. Nissan plans to increase, by the end of the decade, the segment coverage of the Infiniti models from current 50% level to 80% and increase the number of the Infiniti models by 60%. In addition, the company plans to double the number of powertrain variants. Nissan plans to nearly triple the global sales of the Infiniti models from those in the fiscal year ended in March 2013 (FY 2012) to 500,000 units in FY 2016.

 Nissan plans to ramp up the Infiniti brand as a premium brand leveraging on its alliance with Mercedes-Benz. Starting in 2015, Nissan will produce compact vehicles in the U.K. based on Mercedes-Benz's Modular Front Architecture (MFA) platform. This will be followed by a joint development with Mercedes-Benz of the next-generation MFA platform and compact vehicles based on the new platform. Production of the new compact vehicles will start in 2017 at a new plant being built jointly by the two groups.

 Nissan exhibited the Q80 Inspiration Concept at the Paris Motor Show in October 2014. The company announced plans to launch the Q80, the top model under the Infiniti brand, to mark its first foray into the premium sedan market in 2018 if all goes as planned. It has been reported that the Q80 might be developed based on Mercedes-Benz' rear-wheel drive platform.  In November 2014, Nissan started production of the Infiniti models in China.

Medium- and long-term goals for Infiniti brand

Segment coverage  Will be increased from 50% to 80% by the end of the decade
Model variants  Will be increased from 8 to 13 models by the end of the decade
Powertrain variants  Will be doubled by the end of the decade as the model portfolio is expanded
Global unit sales  Will be tripled from sales in FY 2013 to 500,000 units by FY 2017

Source: Infiniti press release Sep. 18, 2014, Automotive News Aug. 25, 2014, Nikkan Kogyo Newspaper Mar. 4, 2014, Nikkan Jidosha Newspaper Mar. 5, 2014.

Three stages of growth through 2020

2014-2015  Preliminary stage to growth path
2016-2017  Entering growth stage with China production contributing to sales increase and the launching of compact premium vehicles (e.g. Q30 and QX30 produced in U.K. and three models produced in Mexico)
2018-2020  Launching Q80 and other highest-end Infiniti models to ramp up the Infiniti as the top-tier premium brand with the alliance with Daimler contributing to a significant degree

Source: An interview with Michael Bartsch, vice president of Infiniti Americas, on Automotive News May 5, 2014
(Note) Infiniti's aggressive long-range rebuilding program was prepared chiefly by Johan de Nysschen who left Audi of America two years ago to join Infiniti. He left Infiniti in July 2014 to join Cadillac GM. But the program itself has been approved by Nissan and will most likely be carried out as planned.

Related report: "Toyota in U.S. and Europe: Reinforcing Lexus and high-performance lines" (Oct. 2014)