TOKYO -- Infiniti, Nissan's luxury brand, has named powertrain specialist Toshihiro Hirai as global head of product planning as it tries to strengthen the marque's identity.
In the role, Hirai is responsible for "planning and executing all future vehicle programs" for the brand, Infiniti said today in a news release. Hirai started the job April 1.
Hirai is based at Nissan and Infiniti's global technical center in Atsugi, Japan. He joins Infiniti after years of working as a top powertrain engineer at Nissan Motor Co.
Hirai is among a number of executives added to Infiniti as the brand's president, Johan de Nysschen, aims to overhaul the marque and distance it from mass-market Nissan.
On Wednesday, Infiniti said it appointed Alfonso Albaisa to a newly created role of global design chief. Last month, de Nysschen named six other top executives to his team, some to other newly created positions, including a chief transformation officer and a vice president for global operations.
Among Hirai's earlier assignments was a stint at Nissan's European engineering center in Cranfield, England, Infiniti said. The mechanical engineer later worked as chief powertrain engineer for a joint Renault-Nissan engine program.
Hirai also was program director for the platform used in such vehicles as the Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail crossovers.
Giving Infiniti a dedicated staff is key to achieving ambitious brand goals set by Nissan Motor Co. CEO Carlos Ghosn.
Ghosn wants Infiniti to grab a 10 percent stake of the global premium market by the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.
And he wants to boost global Infiniti sales to 500,000 units by then, compared with about 170,000 last year.