Nissan's luxury arm might not have made a huge impression, but Infiniti's vice president says the company shouldn't be judged just yet
Mark Tisshaw
14 January 2014

The success or otherwise of Infiniti in Europe should be judged in 2020, not on 2013's performance, according to Infiniti vice president Andy Palmer.

Nissan’s luxury arm has struggled to make an impression in Europe since it launched in 2008, where it has been hampered by limited engine options and incredibly strong competition from German premium marques.

When asked at the Detroit motor show if Infiniti had worked in Europe, Palmer said: “No, but it wasn’t expected to make a huge impression. We have satisfied customers, but were never expected to have huge volume until the Q50 and Q30 arrived.”

The Q50 launched late last year as Infiniti's answer to the BMW 3-series, while the Q30, a compact hatchback conceived to sit between the Audi A3 and Q3 in positioning, is due in 2015. It will be designed and engineered specifically to European tastes, and will be built at Nissan’s Sunderland plant.

“Infiniti is a long-burn cycle,” said Palmer. “Judge us in 2020, not 2013. Globally, we’ve gone from 120,000 units a year to 172,000 units last year. We should get close to 200,000 units in our current financial year, and the brand is already very profitable.

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“We’re expanding and growing in China. The engines were what was missing in Europe but we have access to them now [through a tie-up with Daimler].

“We’re also offering a different design philosophy to the Germans that won’t send you to sleep, and offering different drive characteristics and technologies such as fly-by-wire steering that also require getting used to.”

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14 January 2014
Let's hope Cadillac is taking notes on how to set up a brand for the long term.

14 January 2014
Yes, but we can judge the styling as it is now and none of Infiniti's models look attractive. The front grille (like Lexus's) is naff and the overall design language seems to hark back to old Austins of the 1950s (if anyone can remember them).

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Our Verdict

Infiniti Q50

Is this less individualist Infiniti saloon more of a threat to German rivals?

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week