The place was packed, but the main man wasn't there.
This was the opening of Infiniti's latest and greatest UK dealership, a multi-million-pound white-tiled automotive Taj Mahal on a hillside overlooking the M60 near Stockport, but group supremo Carlos Ghosn, the man whose announcement last May that Infiniti needed to be 20 times bigger across Europe in five year's time – and thus put it there – was busy in another part of the Nissan-Infiniti-Renault empire.
Still, it went with a swing. Local celebrities packed in and Infiniti's new European chief, Bernard Loire, made his entrance to open the place and summarise Infiniti's remarkably aggressive targets – that Infiniti intended to take 10 per cent of the European luxury market by 2016, which will mean selling 500,000 cars in total by 2016, 100,000 of them in Europe and 20,000 of them in the UK. To succeed in Britain, the company will have to go from fewer than 1000 sales in 2010 to 20 times that number, six years later. As Loire, who has been in the job six weeks, it is an enormous task, requiring the appointment of 40 dealers in this country and 250 across Europe.
When you summarise the model plans so far revealed it looks a little more do-able. By 2013 the Infiniti M will have four cylinder petrol and diesel engines. A more handsome G-model will also get four cylinder engines. In 2014 there will be a 'zero emissions vehicle' (off the Nissan Leaf) and in 2015 we'll see Infiniti's new Audi A3-sized model, first fruit of its recently revealed co-operative technology deal with Daimler.
These things, says Loire, will give Infiniti access to much, much more of the market, and there's still a mid-engined two-seater sports car project (the basis of next year's Geneva concept) to be considered. Loire also announced yesterday that as a result of demand, the company would do a limited run of its Sebastian Vettel special edition FX50s, though when, how many and how much are questions not yet able to be answered.
After an evening of explanation about Infiniti's expanding model range, and copious assurances that "20,000 cars is really quite a small number" I found myself starting to believe Infiniti can make rapid progress in this country, especially if its dealers are prepared to invest as much as Qatar-based Hisham Al Mana (also the Nissan-Renault-Infiniti importer in his home country) has done in Stockport.
Yet if achieved, this growth and the European expansion planned will be among the greatest car market ascents seen in 50 years. Carlos ghost will certainly have earned the extra promotion he has just received…