Infiniti will not be launched in the UK until 2009 due to setbacks in establishing a dealer network. Although no hard date had been set for the brand’s introduction, original estimates put the launch date at the end of next year.Problems with finding a partner in the UK to oversee the creation of a dealer network have led to the delay. The quality of the dealer experience is an important part of Infiniti’s plan to woo buyers from established premium brands such as Mercedes and Audi, as Lexus has done, and it does not want to risk making any mistakes.Infiniti is now talking to what it describes as various “regional expert groups” – dealers with experience of handling premium brands, who could handle setting up the company in different parts of the UK. The company’s original strategy involved finding one partner to deal with the whole country.
A finite number of models
The brand will launch four cars when it finally sets up shop in the UK – the G35 saloon and G37 coupe, the EX35 SUV and the new FX SUV. The last car in that list will be launched at the 2008 Geneva motor show.The FX, described by an Infiniti Europe source as “quick”, has been performance benchmarked against the BMW X5 4.8. It uses aluminium in its construction to cut weight, so should have a performance and economy advantage over the BMW, and will be available with V6 and V8 engines with a diesel coming in 2010. Its looks are said to be more unusual than the current model, and have been described as “polarising” by people who have seen the car.
The most exclusive Japanese car brand
If Infiniti’s plan works, its cars will offer a genuinely exclusive alternative to BMW and Mercedes models because it’s not planning to sell huge numbers. “We don’t have to sell thousands,” said Infiniti’s European PR chief Wayne Bruce. “Carlos Ghosn hasn’t set us any targets - we don’t have a sales objective at all. But it’s important to launch properly, and Mr Ghosn hasn’t given us 15 years to get established like Lexus did.”Smaller numbers mean Infiniti will be able to offer a very personalised dealer experience, something Lexus has used to great effect to take sales from rivals. “You can’t offer really great service with thousands of cars to deal with,” said Bruce.Dealers will be called Infiniti Centres. Decked out in lavish cut and smoked glass and chrome, they will be the same as the buildings already open in Russia and China. The wood used in the Centres is the same as the wood in the cars, and the designs of their interiors are signed off by the same man who signs off the cars’ exterior design.