Formula 1 team Red Bull Racing wants to be recognised as a serious engineering firm away from the racetrack, and will use its recent tie-up with Infiniti to move into road car development.
RBR boss Christian Horner told Autocar he wants to “use Red Bull’s expertise outside F1”.
He said: “Red Bull used to be known only as an energy drink company, but now it is recognised as an engineering team. It’s a natural evolution for us to get involved in road car engineering.”
Chief among the Infiniti/RBR plans is a co-developed sports model in the mould of the Renault Clio Williams, although Nissan’s luxury arm has not yet disclosed which car will receive this treatment.
Infiniti insiders are already suggesting brand awareness is rising because of the F1 tie-up, which has been aided by hiring RBR driver Sebastian Vettel as a company ambassador.
Infiniti’s European plans away from its RBR alliance include two new model lines, four-cylinder engine options and more hybrid cars.
The new models include a crossover in the Ford Focus class inspired by Infiniti’s Etherea concept and a Nissan Leaf-based electric car with a greater range and improved performance.
The Renault-Nissan union with Daimler will yield Infiniti four-cylinder petrol and diesel engines, while the brand will also extend its hybrid offerings, some developed in-house, others with Mercedes-Benz.
Infiniti’s aim is to sell half a million cars globally by the middle of the decade — up from the 145,000 sold in 2010 — with 10,000 of them forecast for the UK, where just over 500 Infinitis found homes last year.
Richard Bremner/Jim Holder