Infiniti boss wants to fill gaps in U.S. and European lineups
De Nysschen: “More emotional excitement”
PARIS -- Johan de Nysschen, who became head of Infiniti on July 1, says the brand needs substantial additions to its product lineup to become a credible global luxury player.
In an interview at the show, de Nysschen, president of Infiniti Global Ltd., said the brand could also use a bit of luck in China, where antagonism toward Japanese brands is running high as the nations dispute sovereignty over a small group of islands.
In the United States, Infiniti has a strong range of SUVs and does well with the G-series cars, he said.
But in order to begin to win price and brand-image parity with German luxury brands -- including Audi, which he formerly headed in the United States -- it needs to "raise the center of gravity of the brand" with high-end offerings, de Nysschen said.
That likely means performance cars at the top of the lineup.
"We need to probably add a little more emotional excitement to our range," he said. "So I guess that's an oblique reference for the need for some high-performance models and also in the future a car that is positioned above the current M."
In Europe, the brand's second-largest market, lineup gaps are more fundamental, de Nysschen said.
"The current portfolio in Europe is derived from the offerings in the U.S.," he said. "That means you don't have a wide range of diesel powertrains, you don't have wagons, you don't have a compact premium entry car. Those are all missed opportunities."
The European needs derive from Infiniti's history as a brand launched in the United States, which has continued to be its primary focus.
"Infiniti is largely a U.S.-centric brand. The company does 70 percent of its volume" there, de Nysschen said.
He said Infiniti hopes to make China its third major market. But international tensions make the future there uncertain.
"One doesn't know, with the political situation, how enduring this is going to be," he said. "I would have to be candid to say that I am concerned about it."
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