25 June 2004

Infiniti’s much-mooted arrival in Europe to spark a luxury-car war with Lexus will be delayed until 2008 at the earliest, because of the lack of a big-capacity diesel engine. ‘We need a good V6 diesel before we can come to Europe,’ said parent company Nissan’s product chief, Patrick Pelata. ‘Our launch must be based on products, not brand.’

The firm is also concerned that European dealers will need to be bolstered before Infiniti can break into Europe and compete with homegrown luxury brands like BMW, Jaguar and Mercedes.

‘There’s a long way to go before we can deliver a satisfactory experience in showrooms,’ admitted Nissan chairman Carlos Ghosn.

Because of a strict five-year model cycle, the delays mean that none of the current Infiniti line-up will be sold in Britain. However, bosses say that the next generation of models will stick to the existing brief of front-engined, rear- or four-wheel-drive luxury saloons and SUVs, as displayed by the M45 concept unveiled at the New York Motor Show in April. Western Europe will be the final major market to sell Infiniti. Sales start in Korea next year, with Japan, China and Russia coming on stream in 2006 and 2007.

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