Infiniti, Nissan’s luxury division will significantly raise its presence in China as it was today confirmed that two Infiniti models will be manufactured locally in China from 2014.
“We will localize two cars from 2014 and they will be specific to China,” Andy Palmer, an executive vice president who oversees Infiniti said, declining to specify which types of cars, other than to say they will be high volume, entry-level luxury models, or in which Chinese plant they will be made.
The move to produce Infiniti models in China, where tariffs of 25 percent put imported vehicles at a disadvantage, should put Nissan on a better footing to compete with market leaders Audi AG, Mercedes Benz maker Daimler AG and BMW AG, which all produce locally.
While making cars in China is likely to boost sales, analysts said the company would have to ensure that it maintained proper quality controls.
“Localising your luxury brand, which is supposed to stand out in quality and customer experience, is always a challenge,” Kurt Sanger of Deutsche Bank told the BBC.
Nissan will debut a new version of its midsize Infiniti M 35 hybrid sedan at the Beijing Motor Show on Monday with an extended wheelbase that is designed to appeal to chauffeured Chinese car owners.
Automakers plan a series of global premieres at the show and are bringing SUVs and luxury sedans designed for Chinese buyers.
Growth in China’s vehicle sales plunged from an eye-popping 35 per cent in 2010 to just 2.5 per cent last year as the economy slowed.
General Motors, China’s biggest auto brand with 2011 sales of 2.5 million vehicles, says it expects to boost sales 7 to 10 per cent this year, outpacing the market.