Business / Flash

Infiniti's growing China connection

By Lu Haoting and Li Fusheng (China Daily) Updated: 2015-08-28 08:12

Better engagement with local community key to business success amid market slowdown, says its president

Roland Krueger, president of Infiniti Motor Co Ltd, believes listening is the golden rule of managing a successful business.

"Taking the example of building good relationship with dealers, we need to sit down with them and just listen ... We need to understand how we can support them to capture market opportunities," said the 50-year-old auto industry veteran.

That philosophy appears even more important at a time when the automobile market in China suffered an unprecedented slowdown after surpassing the US as the world's largest in 2009. There have also been growing number of cases when the relationships between automobile firms and dealers have turned sour due to shrinking profit margins and squabbles over profit sharing.

In fact, maintaining strong and healthy relationship with dealers has been the cornerstone of Infiniti's development in China, its most important growth market, said Krueger.

The company said its sales in China surged 33 percent year-on-year in the first seven months, while the average growth rate of passenger vehicles sales in China was a meager 3.39 percent during the same period.

Established in the US in 1989, Infiniti is the first premium auto brand based in China after moving its headquarters to Hong Kong in 2012.

Infiniti formed a joint venture with China's Dongfeng Motor Corp in September 2014 and the company's first locally produced car was unveiled at the end of 2014. Since then, the two models, Q50L and QX50, both produced in Xiangyang, Hubei province, have made Infiniti one of the fastest global players to localize production in China.

Looking ahead, Krueger said the long-term ambition for Infiniti, the luxury arm of Nissan Motor Co Ltd, is to become a top-tier player in the premium car sector.

He spoke to China Daily on Infiniti's strategy for business growth. The following are edited excerpts from the interview:

The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers has slashed its full-year sales growth forecast for China from 7 percent to 3 percent. How do you look at the Chinese auto market?

China is the biggest single car market in the world. This also makes it the most important for every carmaker. We have chosen China as one of the key strategic areas to grow.

Nevertheless, it must also be understood that the over-proportional growth figures we saw in recent years will normalize. It will be more of normal growth. And this is what we are experiencing at the moment. We understand the growth figures and work with our dealers to catch up with the market.

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