Even With New Leader, Infiniti Struggles For Upper Echelon

Jan 27 2014, 10:36am CST | by

Even With New Leader, Infiniti Struggles For Upper Echelon

Johan de Nysschen declared at the Detroit auto show this month that Infiniti will “continue to surprise,” 25 years after Nissan launched its U.S.-centric luxury brand at the same North American International Auto Show.

But so far, it’s de Nysschen who has been surprised — by his inability to turn around the flailing brand quickly after he began posting better results almost immediately during his earlier revival of the Audi of America franchise.

Infiniti sales have vastly underperformed de Nysschen’s expectations of making rapid improvements after taking the helm of the struggling brand 18 months ago. So far de Nysschen hasn’t been able to effectively apply his old magic, and Infiniti’s growth has stalled while other premium marques have continued to accelerate.

Infiniti will “move well beyond 500,000 units by 2020″ in worldwide sales, de Nysschen declared at the show, which is actually somewhat short of the 600,000-unit goal that was reported for the brand when it hired him after a great turn in leading Audi to annual double-digit sales gains in the U.S. for several years running.

In 2013, Infiniti’s U.S. sales actually declined by 2 percent, to about 116,000 units, while those of rivals Lexus increased by 12 percent, for instance, and Audi by 13 percent.

And de Nysschen may have pared back his initial hopes that Infiniti could eventually play with the gorillas of the segment. “We’ll be a significant player in the premium market, but we’ll still be small enough to be able to be exclusive,” he said at Detroit.

De Nysschen is said to be frustrated with the inner workings of Nissan as well as with the outer results. Another problem is a lack of product breadth: At this point the brand is represented in segments that account for only 58 percent of all American luxury-car sales.

But in Detroit, de Nysschen declared that Infiniti’s plans to grow dynamically have not waned and that the brand intends to ride a combination of broader segment representation, robust new vehicles bearing a fresh design language, new powertrains and more significant presence in new global markets to greater success.

Michael Bartsch, Infiniti’s vice president of the Americas, said that Infiniti is likely to move about 125,000 vehicles in the United States during the current fiscal year which ends in March, which in itself would be a 7-percent uptick in the annualized rate over Infiniti’s calendar-2013 performance — and, thus, quick progress.

Substantially, that growth will be driven by the impressive Q-series Q50 sedan that Infiniti introduced last year. Over the last two months in the U.S., Bartsch said, Infiniti has sold more than 10,000 Q50 units, and more than half of the buyers have been “conquest” customers.

Infiniti expects to introduce next year a version of its smaller Q30 sedan in the US, and it displayed a Q50 Eau Rouge concept vehicle at the show that is likely to influence future versions of the Q50 and possibly a performance-focused sub-brand, much like how parent company Nissan has its GTR line-up.

Globally, de Nysschen said, China is key. Infiniti will open a plant in China later this year. And as if to underscore Infiniti’s global brand relevance, he noted in Detroit that songstress Katy Perry had just performed for Infiniti at an event in China.

The brand, de Nysschen said, is “hard at work building momentum.”

Still, Bartsch said, “Our focus is not on quantity but on the quality of our business.” He said that a “major task is building the reach of the Infiniti brand and its premium nature [and] making it easier for [American] customers to experience it.”

Source: Forbes Auto

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
Over 20 Black Friday 2014 sales are already launched. Get the deals early to get your head free for the hard to get Black Friday deals to be released on Thanksgiving Day.
 
 
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
IPad Air Giveaway 2014 is Online
Our sister site I4U News is giving away a brand new iPad Air or if you can wait an iPad Air 2. This is an $499 value.
 
 
Your Parent Or Kid Moved In: Are You Covered?
A record 57 million Americans now live in multigenerational family households — double the number in 1980, according to a new Pew Research Center study. And I bet many of them have the wrong homeowner’s or renters...
 
 
Pandora Looks to Challenge Terrestrial Radio's Dominance in Cars
Pandora Media is one of the largest Internet radio providers in the U.S. with more than 75 million active users. While the company’s active user count has increased at a robust pace historically, it is likely to slow...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

Modi, Sharif bonhomie gives fresh boost to Saarc (Intro Roundup)
Kathmandu, Nov 27 (IANS) In a final ice-breaking moment that gave a huge boost to Saarc and floundering regional cooperation, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi shook hands with his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Uneasy calm returns to Ferguson as protests continue nationwide (Roundup)
Washington, Nov 27 (IANS) An uneasy calm returned to Ferguson Thursday after two nights of unrest over a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager in...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Ricky Martin's twins love touring
Ricky Martin says his twins love going on tour with him. The 'Adrenalina' singer has five-year-old boys Matteo and Valentino and whenever he can he takes them on the road with him because he misses them if he's apart...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Taylor Swift: Mistakes are good for you
Taylor Swift says some of her ''biggest mistakes'' have been her ''best lessons'' in life. The 24-year-old musician insists she always takes the positive from every situation and even though she has had to deal with...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Jessica Alba's dad cooks 'hot n' spicy' turkey
Jessica Alba's dad cooks a ''hot n' spicy'' turkey at Thanksgiving. The 33-year-old actress celebrated the holiday early this year as she's currently filming 'Mechanic: Resurrection' in Thailand and she's revealed her...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger are too 'young' for babies
Lewis Hamilton and Nicole Scherzinger are too ''young'' to have children. The 2014 Formula 1 champion isn't ready to settle down and start a family with the 36-year-old singer because they are both too busy. Speaking...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
How Koirala broke the impasse between India, Pakistan
Kathmandu, Nov 27 (IANS) Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala played a crucial role in ending the impasse between India and Pakistan during the retreat at Dhulikhel near here Thursday on the sidelines of the 18th Saarc...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Sindhu, Prannoy in Macau Open quarters
Macau, Nov 27 (IANS) Two-time World Championships bronze medallist P.V. Sindhu and male shuttler H.S. Prannoy entered the quarter-finals in the singles competitions of the Macau Open Grand Prix Gold at the Tap Seac...
Read more on Sport Balla
 
British PM faces heat over failure to cut immigration
London, Nov 27 (IANS) With net annual migration soaring to more than a quarter of a million, British Prime Minister David Cameron's promise to reduce the figures has been questioned. Official figures Thursday showed...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Fact file: Phillip Joel Hughes
Sydney, No Nov 27 (IANS) Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, renowned as an aggressive batsman, was on the verge of reigniting his Test career before he was fatally hit on the head while batting in the Sheffield Shield...
Read more on Sport Balla