SAN FRANCISCO -- Infiniti, sold only in North America, will become a global luxury player next year when sales begin in Asia.
The effort to take Infiniti worldwide is part of Nissan Motor Co.'s plan to boost the company's worldwide sales approximately 40 percent by the end of the company's 2007 fiscal year.
"We will introduce Infiniti to the Korean market in mid-2005," said Mario Canavesi, senior vice president of sales and marketing at Nissan Europe.
"During the next few years, (Infiniti) will expand to Japan, China and Russia, and later in western Europe," Canavesi said.
Neither the timetable nor the model line was disclosed for these geographic areas. Canavesi spoke at a Nissan event this month in San Francisco.
The Infiniti Q45 is based on the Japanese-market Nissan Cima.
Infiniti was launched in the United States in the 1989 model year. Last year, Infiniti sold 127,798 vehicles in Canada, Mexico and the United States.
For comparison, Mercedes-Benz last year sold about 1.1 million light-duty vehicles worldwide.
Infiniti is only one part of Nissan's plan to boost worldwide sales. The automaker plans to add nameplates and take existing nameplates into new markets.
For example, sales of the next-generation Nissan Skyline GT-R coupe and Cube are expected to begin in North America around 2007. The Skyline GT-R is a four-passenger, rear-wheel-drive performance coupe. The Cube is a small, four-door wagon that will be aimed at the Scion Xb wagon.
The Cube will be badged as a Nissan in North America. No decision has been made on whether the Skyline GT-R will carry the Nissan or Infiniti badge, said Steve Wilhite, vice president of global marketing for Nissan Motor Co.
In Nissan Motor's last fiscal year, which ended March 31, it sold about 3 million vehicles worldwide. Canavesi said its global target in its 2007 fiscal year is 4.2 million vehicles.
"Passenger cars alone will not be enough to attain our goals," he said. "Light-commercial vehicles represent a growing segment around the world."
Four small vans fall in the light-commercial category: the Nissan Primastar; the aging Nissan Urvan, which had its origin in 1973; and two rebadged Renault vehicles, the Nissan Interstar and Kubistar.
In April Nissan created a business unit that Canavesi said "will focus on the manufacture and sale of light-commercial vehicles worldwide."