YOKOHAMA, Japan -- To premium player Infiniti, the key to cracking the top tier of luxury brands is simple: To be truly global, you need to build vehicles globally.
Infiniti will take that strategy a step further this year when it opens a plant in Mexico, marking the brand's fifth country for production.
The strategy is accepted wisdom around the industry -- but not always in the premium segment. Infiniti has gone beyond even its two more established Japanese rivals, Lexus and Acura.
The multination strategy is all the more brazen for Infiniti because it is one of the industry's smallest premium brands. Small carmakers typically try to leverage scale by bunching output in as few locales as possible.
Lexus, for instance, sold 652,000 vehicles worldwide in 2015 and manufactures in just three countries: Japan, the U.S. and Canada.
Acura, which sold 182,414 vehicles last year but is a larger brand in the United States, builds its cars in Japan and the U.S. It will start making a new compact crossover in China this year.
Infiniti sold 215,250 vehicles globally last year, but it soon will be churning out vehicles in five countries: Britain, China, Japan, Mexico and the U.S. The Mexico plant, a $1 billion 50-50 joint venture with partner Daimler AG, will go online in the fiscal year ending March 31, 2017.