Find out why 2015 is set to be the breakthrough year for Infiniti in the UK…
2015 is shaping up to be an important year for Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury arm.
UK sales of Infiniti’s cars are still relatively small and dwarfed by the brand’s two biggest markets – America and China.
However, 2015 will see the start of Infiniti production in Europe when a new facility opens alongside Nissan’s giant plant in Sunderland.
A new premium hatch based on the Q30 concept will be produced, doing battle in the ‘C segment’, dominated by the Ford Focus, though it will have the Audi A3 and BMW 1 Series in its sights.
The Q30 is expected to be followed by a QX30 crossover which will rival the Audi Q3 and BMW X1.
The £250m investment by Infiniti will create over 1,000 new jobs in the UK automotive industry and Infiniti claims it will become the first new car brand to be manufactured in the UK on such a large scale in 23 years.
So, just like the Nissan’s Qashqai, LEAF, Note and Juke, Infiniti will be able to trade on being a “British-built” car.
In the first six months of 2014 alone, Infiniti sold a record 101,220 new vehicles around the world – up 30% compared with a year ago.
At the end of June, the company started engine production at its plant in Decherd, Tennessee, and announced the start of production in Mexico as of 2017.
In November Infiniti began local production in China at the Xiangyang Plant in Hubei Province, when the first Infiniti Q50L (long wheelbase) rolled off the assembly line.
Infiniti aims to raise sales in China to 100,000 vehicles by 2018, over half of which will be locally produced models.
In September Infiniti opened its new design facility in London as it gears up for a new-model offensive over the next five years, with studios in Beijing and San Diego to follow.
Infiniti’s stunning Q80 Inspiration concept car was a massive statement of intent at the Paris Motor Show in October.
Another concept, the Q60 premium sports coupe, will wow visitors to the 2015 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit.
Still on the concept theme, the awesome Infiniti Vision Gran Turismo made its debut in Gran Turismo 6 on the PlayStation 3.
And as if all that isn’t enough, in October Infiniti was announced as an entrant for the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship next year as title sponsor of a new not-for-profit motorsport team named Infiniti Support Our Paras Racing.
Staying on the racetrack, Sebastian Vettel – Infiniti’s Director of Performance and four-time Formula One World Drivers’ Champion for Infiniti Red Bull Racing – was putting the brand’s high-performance prototype super-saloon, the Q50 Eau Rouge, through its paces. The 180mph beast goes on sale in 2015.
Along with key management changes and new dealerships opening in the UK, including both Westfield shopping centres in London, plus Newcastle, Norwich and St Albans, Infiniti is gearing up for serious expansion.
When I spoke to Nicolas Tschann (Product Director for Infiniti EMEA) at the Paris Motor Show, I got the feeling that he believes Infiniti doesn’t always get the credit it deserves.
For instance, the Q50 had three technological world firsts when it was launched – Direct Adaptive Steering, Active Lane Control and Predictive Forward Collision Warning.
However, he’s sure Infiniti is about to become a volume premium brand, adding: “We’re focusing on a new generation of buyers who are looking for something different – more tailored.
“There are great challenges ahead but we have great expectations and I am confident we can build on our achievements so far and develop models that take premium motoring to new customers.”