User-choosers will have a second Japanese luxury badge bidding for their company money in 2008 as Nissan rolls out its upmarket Infiniti brand across Europe, following in the footsteps of Lexus.
Senior Nissan executives have confirmed that Infiniti (pictured), which has been a success in North America, will arrive in Europe following a march westwards from Japan, Korea, China and Russia.
The roll-out begins in the far east to ensure a suitable six-cylinder diesel can be made ready for the brand's European launch, whether it will be sourced from another manufacturer, or designed and built within the Renault-Nissan alliance.
##InfinitiM45--none--The Infiniti M45##
Fleet News revealed the company's plans to become a global brand earlier this year, and the M45 Concept unveiled in April will be one of the first cars to arrive (Fleet NewsNet, April 22). But this is the first time senior Nissan executives have given a date for its arrival in the UK.
Patrick Pelata, senior vice-president of Nissan Europe, said: 'Infiniti will be a new battle for us. We said it should go 'tier one' against Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi and Lexus.'
A new network of stand-along Infiniti dealers is likely to be set up before the brand's launch to differentiate the products from the existing Nissan line-up.
He said the company needed to have a 'good' six-cylinder diesel before its arrival in Europe, adding that to make Infiniti a global brand it needed to work on customer care to ensure premium car customers were provided with the level of service they expect.
He said: 'The automotive industry is one of the worst in the world for customer handling. We want to make a breakthrough in this area while continuing the same pace of product output.'
Nissan president and chief executive Carlos Ghosn said Nissan will launch 28 new products worldwide by 2007, seven of which will not be replacements for current vehicles.