In taking up the role of president of Infiniti, Krüger also becomes a senior vice-president of Nissan. Unlike de Nysschen, who worked more closely with Andy Palmer (who recently left his role as Nissan boss to join Aston Martin), Krüger will report directly to Renault-Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn as Infiniti aims to ramp up its assault on the premium sector.
Commenting on the new appointment, Ghosn said: “Roland Krüger has a consistent record of high performance in the premium automotive sector. He brings unique leadership skills that will accelerate Infiniti’s progress in the global premium market.”
Initially a designer at Mitsubishi, Krüger joined the BMW Group in 1998 and held several senior management roles at the company, including MD of its Asian business.
Infiniti aims to sell 500,000 units in 2020, which the company equates to a 10 per share of the global luxury market. Though traditionally strongest in the USA, Infiniti's HQ is now in Hong Kong, it has a European base in Switzerland, a new design centre opens in London next week, and manufacturing of the new Q30 compact crossover – expected to replace the QX70 as Infiniti UK's best-seller – will begin in Sunderland in 2015.
The brand now competes in 50 markets. While European sales for 2014 are set to reach 7000, the company plans to sell more than 50,000 units in 2018 by expanding its dealer network, introducing fresh powertrains such as the Q50's new 2.0-litre turbo petrol engine, and entering additional premium segments, including four new models in the next four years.
Recognising the time required to build a premium brand, Infiniti Northern Europe boss Steve Oliver cited that 20 years that have elapsed since Audi joined the premium sector with the A4. "We're in that early gestation period," he said, before emphasising the need for steady, sustained growth rather than chasing huge volumes. Infiniti began selling in Europe in 2008.
Infiniti is planning to increase its UK dealer base from nine outlets to 25. UK sales in 2013 totalled just 385 vehicles, but stronger recent performance means estimates for 2014 are being pitched at a record 800 units.
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