Infiniti has elevated Bob Welby to U.S. sales chief and No. 2 executive for the critical U.S. market.
Starting June 1, Welby takes over as senior director of operations, where he will oversee sales, client experience, training, model line management, pricing and incentives, Infiniti said Wednesday.
Welby, 46, succeeds Jeff Pope, who was named Infiniti Americas group vice president in April and now runs the brand's North America business. Welby will report to Pope.
Welby, director of chief marketing management for Infiniti in the U.S., previously held positions in sales operations and marketing. He joined Nissan North America in 1996, starting in the Northeast Region, and moved to Infiniti in 2012.
In his new role, Welby will be charged with protecting and growing Infiniti's position in the U.S., the brand's biggest market. The market accounts for 70 percent of its global sales.
That has become a tougher challenge, as luxury market competition ratchets up amid falling vehicle demand, rising vehicle prices and higher interest rates. U.S. new-vehicle sales are expected to fall below 17 million for the first time since 2014, according to most forecasts.
In 2018, Infiniti trailed Germany's BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, as well as Japanese rival Lexus in U.S. sales. Infiniti's U.S. sales dipped 2.7 percent last year, compared with a 0.4 percent slide for overall U.S. luxury sales.
Through April this year, Infiniti sold 42,806 vehicles in the U.S., down 14 percent from a year ago.
Retaking market share in the highly competitive luxury auto segment will be still more challenging given Infiniti has the oldest product portfolio in the luxury market.