More than two decades since its launch, Infiniti – Nissan’s luxury brand – has developed a reputation for quality, entertaining vehicles that look interesting enough, but underperform on the sales charts.
The brand’s first president, the South African Johan de Nysschen, who used to lead Audi in the United States, aims to change all of that. And he seems to have more than the full support of Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.
De Nysschen seems a logical choice to lead Infiniti to the next level. Audi’s brand promise is similar to Infiniti’s. Both position themselves as the maker of upscale cars for drivers who appreciate performance first and foremost – performance that is reflected in daring styling, of course. And both brands hope to grow by not just attracting new buyers, but also taking them away from BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
The new Infiniti boss has a game plan for growth and at its centre are new models and new powertrains. He recently told Automotive News that Infiniti must follow these steps to attract more buyers:
- Launch a halo car. Look some sort of sports car based on one of the many Infiniti concepts we’ve seen in recent years.
- More and varied powertrains. That is, V-6 engines are not enough for North American buyers, nor for the rest of the world where Infiniti sells in 50 different countries. Look for turbocharged small engines, hybrids and diesels to come.
- The need for more manufacturing capacity could lead to Infiniti building cars in Mexico.
- The United States is a strong market, but China is now the world’s largest new-car market. Infiniti needs to be a big player in China.
- Infiniti must be seen as more than a brand where you’ll find fancy Nissans. Infiniti cars needs to be distinct and they need to be marketed that way.
“We have been living in Nissan’s shadow for 23 years,” de Nysschen told the industry publication. “We must have our own clear identity.”