Nissan Car With Infiniti Badge to Debut in Japan
TOKYO – Nissan Motor Co. will roll out a redesigned model early next year in Japan with an Infiniti badge on its front grill. That will be the first time for the Japanese car maker to use the upscale emblem on vehicles sold in Japan, where Infiniti vehicles are marketed simply under the Nissan brand.
As German luxury car brands become more and more common on the streets of Tokyo, Nissan is hoping that its remodeled Skyline, known as the Infiniti Q50 in other markets, will capture a bigger slice of the high end market, Executive Vice President Andy Palmer told reporters.
But he also said that just because the Infiniti badge will be on some of its vehicles, that doesn’t mean that the company is introducing the brand domestically as the Skyline nameplate has been a well-established name in Japan for more than half a century.Infiniti was created in 1989 as a new brand to compete with American and European luxury cars in the U.S. Under its six-year business plan, Nissan aims to nearly double the marketing areas that the Infiniti brand is sold by March 2017. Japan, however, isn’t a part of the expansion plan at the moment.
While Nissan has been considering rolling out the Infinity brand at home, the fact that overall auto demand is shrinking and shifting to smaller vehicles makes that a tricky proposition.
Nissan’s domestic rivals have had a spotty track record when it comes to the luxury segment in Japan. Toyota Motor Corp. launched its Lexus brand in Japan in 2005, setting up training facilities and a new sales network. But Honda Motor Co. pulled the plug on a plan to bring its Acura brand to the domestic market after the outbreak of the global economic crisis in 2008.
Despite Toyota’s commanding share of Japan’s auto market, Lexus is locked in a head-to-head battle with German brands as they introduce smaller as well as premium models aimed at meeting the tastes of Japanese customers.
– WALL STREET JOURNAL