Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury division plans to sell over 100,000 vehicles in China by 2016, Lv Zhengyu, general manager for Infiniti China said at the recently held Rethinking and Reshaping Auto Industry in Challenging Times discussion panel.
“In 2007, Infiniti’s first year in China, [the manufacturer] sold 1,000 vehicles; by 2011, Infiniti’s sales were already closing in on 20,000 vehicles,” Mr. Lv boasted, adding that the manufacturer plans to sell 30,000 vehicles this year.
The Japanese automaker most probably will start production of the M-series in China somewhere in 2015. The vehicle will compete with the China-made Mercedes-Benz E-series, BMW 5, AUdi A6 and Volvo S80. Nissan will likely put the Infiniti production under the Dongfeng-Nissan joint venture in a new factory in Hangzhou in Zhejiang Province.
The movement will help the Japanese automaker to avoid the “strong-yen” that is, according to Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn a “major handicap” for the luxury nameplate.
Mexico is another possibility for North American production, as it offers cheap labor (compared to the U.S., anyway) and Nissan has already announced a new manufacturing plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico.
A soaring yen makes it cheaper to buy commodities and overseas assets, but it also diminishes earnings from major auto markets such as the United States.
That has made things difficult for Infiniti, which is a long way off from meeting Ghosn’s goal of making up 10 percent of global luxury sales.