SOUTH KOREA: Infiniti brand plans first outside-US launch for mid-2005
Nissan Korea, established in February 2004, will introduce five Infiniti models from mid-2005. This is the first time that the luxury brand will be launched in a dedicated sales network outside of North America, and represents the first step in its global expansion.
Infiniti will launch with the G35 sport sedan and sport coupe, the Q45 luxury sedan, and the M35 and M45 sedans, which will be based on the concept debuted at the 2004 New York motor show. The FX35 and FX45 premium crossover SUVs will follow later in 2005.
Nissan claimed Infiniti has enjoyed an excellent reputation for unique contemporary design, athletic performance and top-ranking customer service ever since it was first launched in the US and Canada in 1989 (some might quibble over the 'unique design' claim as one model was simply a reworked Nissan Primera).
Last year, the maker added, Infiniti achieved the highest ranking in JD Power's annual CSI (Customer Satisfaction Index) study of the US luxury car market. For the last two years, Infiniti has been the fastest growing luxury brand in the US.
Nissan Korea is currently considering Infiniti dealer candidates, and plans to appoint between two and three outlets before the scheduled mid- 2005 product launch. The independently owned and operated dealers will offer sales, servicing and spare parts.
"Nissan Korea will be an important driver of NISSAN Value-Up, our newly announced three-year business plan. We are convinced that Infiniti, following its success in the fiercely competitive US market, will strongly appeal to Korean luxury vehicle customers," said Toshiyuki Shiga, senior vice president of Nissan Motor Co.
Kenneth Engberg, president of Nissan Korea, added: "Korea's imported car market is expected to more than double within five years. Once our dealer network becomes fully operational, we expect to achieve sales volumes similar to other leading luxury brands."
Last month, Nissan president and CEO Carlos Ghosn announced that the company plans to expand Infiniti to Japan, China, Russia and at a later stage Western Europe, following its launch in Korea.