Infiniti appoints Michael Bartsch as top executive for the U.S. image

In a sales decline although generally the market is on the rise, Infiniti hopes to takle this situation by snatching Porsche’s No. 2 U.S. executive, Michael Bartsch.

Bartsch, a native of Australia with dual Australian-German citizenship is 54 and will replace Ben Poore next month in the latest in a series of global personnel changes for Nissan’s luxury brand. Previously he had been chief operating officer and executive vice president of Porsche Cars North America since 2005. He had been scheduled to become CEO of Porsche Cars Australia on Sept. 1. In May, Porsche said Joe Lawrence would succeed Bartsch as COO.

Poore’s U.S. operations have been the cornerstone of Infiniti’s business since he stepped into the lead U.S. role of vice president in 2008. Poore, formerly group marketing manager for Ford Motor Co.’s Lincoln Mercury division, has helped mold Infiniti’s Japanese-luxury identity into a European-leaning rival of Audi.

Unfortunately, the past two years have been a sales challenge and even though in 2012 Infiniti pulled a 22% increase to 119,877 vehicles, the Japanese manufacturer was seriously overshadowed in the market by the fierce competition between Mercedes-Benz, Audi and BMW.