TOKYO — Infiniti will make a plunge deeper into China over the next five years, aiming to triple its sales through local production of five new nameplates.
Infiniti said last week that the first of the vehicles will be its redesigned QX50 crossover, which will go on sale in China by year end.
The company did not say what the other locally produced nameplates will be or where they will be made. But it said they will be added within five years.
Production of the U.S. version of the QX50 is just now being launched at a new assembly plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico, that is jointly owned by parent Nissan Motor Co. and Daimler.
Chinese production will help Infiniti duck steep tariffs on imported vehicles and price its offerings more competitively. By doing so, the brand aims to triple annual sales to nearly 150,000 vehicles.
Infiniti's sales in China climbed 16 percent to a record 48,408 vehicles in 2017.
The brand currently manufactures two models in China, the Q50L and Q70L, stretch versions of the sedans. They are built at Nissan's plant in Xiangyang.
The QX50 will be manufactured at its factory in Dalian. Infiniti operates in China through Nissan's partnership with Dongfeng Motor Co.
The QX50 will tap a sweet spot in China's market. Local sales of SUVs and crossovers surged 11 percent to 2.66 million units in the first quarter of this year, outpacing the overall market's 2.6 percent rise.
Going forward, electrification will be another key element of Infiniti's expansion in China. The brand says that by 2025, more than half of its new vehicles sold there will be electrified.