The influx of new models should also help Infiniti gradually dial back incentives, Kargar noted.
U.S. spiffs for Infiniti soared 20 percent to an average of $8,561 per vehicle in the January-March quarter, according to data from Motor Intelligence. That compared with an industry average increase of 10 percent to $3,909. Infiniti's outlays exceeded those of virtually every other premium player, even as its U.S. sales slid 26 percent to 25,558 vehicles in the quarter.
Jump-starting Infiniti is a key part of the revised midterm business plan unveiled in late May by Nissan CEO Makoto Uchida. The road map runs through the fiscal year ending March 31, 2024.
Infiniti's global volume peaked at 249,000 vehicles in 2018, before dropping 24 percent to 188,994 last year. Kargar said sales will fall again in 2020 because the brand has pulled out of Europe and because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. He declined to give a sales target.
A steady hand on the wheel might help. Infiniti has cycled through chairmen since Roland Krüger left in January 2019 to lead Dyson's now defunct electric car program. Christian Meunier took over, but only for a few months. He left in May 2019 to become global president of Fiat Chrysler's Jeep brand. Nissan Chief Quality Officer Christian Vandenhende filled in until Mike Colleran was appointed Infiniti chairman from April 1 this year, but he has since been called back to lead Nissan Division sales for the U.S. Two months later, Kargar is now on top.
He is fluent in French, English and Farsi, and he is a student of Spanish, Japanese and Arabic. As head of Nissan's incredibly diverse African, Middle East and South Asian operations, Kargar, an engineer by training, managed everything from marketing and sales to vehicle production and development.
He expects to leverage that holistic perspective in rebooting Infiniti.
"You need to look at all the aspects of the business," he said. "For example, having a fresh lineup is not just investing in some models. It's understanding, years ahead, what the markets are asking, what the dealers are asking, what your brand is, and what you want to put into it."