Nissan’s Hong Kong-based premium brand Infiniti has appointed local Renault importer Global Motors NZ as its official New Zealand distributor and will start operations with dealerships in one key city in each island.
The brand will have outlets in Auckland and Christchurch – the largest cities in the North and South Islands respectively – and sell the Q50 saloon, and QX70 and QX80 SUVs, Infiniti said in a statement.
Infiniti president Roland Krueger said he was “looking forward to a successful launch of the brand in New Zealand. The timing of the introduction is perfect to challenge the premium automotive market segment since last year [we] had record sales of over 230,000 units worldwide.”
Asia and Oceania is one of the fastest growing regions for the brand where sales reached a record high of almost 6,700 vehicles in 2016.
Infiniti New Zealand spokesman, Tom Griffiths, said: “We are honoured to partner with Infiniti, with whom we have a long-term relationship through the Renault-Nissan Alliance.”
The deal had been in the works awhile. Local website motoringnetwork.com reported speculation back in April 2016 the brand would come to New Zealand though Global Motors, a wholly New Zealand-owned and operated company which has held the distribution rights for Renault there since 2014, did not respond at the time to conjecture about its interest in distributing Infiniti.
The website noted a hometown connection – Infiniti’s Hong Kong-based Asia and Oceania division managing director at the time, Dane Fisher, is an Aucklander who came up through the Giltrap Group, an importer and dealer operator for multiple, mostly premium brands. He held key roles with Giltrap’s Audi and Porsche operations before a 2012 move to Lamborghini and then on to Infiniti in 2014.
Current Infiniti spokesman Griffiths headed Renault New Zealand at the time of motoringnetwork.com‘s report. The website noted Infiniti models are already in New Zealand as used imports (the country is a major market for these, mainly from Japan) and an Australian media event had also been held there in 2012 ahead of the relaunch in that market.
Infiniti launched first in Australia in in 1993 but pulled out in 1997 because brand penetration was poor, according to motoringnetwork.com, returned five years later and continued to struggle, citing a limited model range, low brand awareness, marginal dealer representation and the German brands’ domination of the Australian prestige car market. It sold just 574 cars there in 2015, up 30% year on year.
Nissan New Zealand did not have Infiniti distribution rights and had never been asked to take on the brand, managing director John Manley told motoringnetwork.com last year.