Business / Auto China

Infiniti to push the new energy pedal

By Gao Yuan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-11-10 09:26

China's growing demand for high-end automobiles will provide the perfect highway for Infiniti to race at full throttle, said Daniel Kirchert, president of Dongfeng Infiniti Motor Co Ltd and managing director of Infiniti China.

"Although Infiniti is a late comer in Chinese luxury car market, we see a great opportunity to make strong advances by introducing more localized vehicles for Chinese customers," Kirchert told China Daily at the 2014 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Economic CEO Summit on Sunday.

Infiniti to push the new energy pedal
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Infiniti to push the new energy pedal
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Infiniti posted a 91 percent year-on-year growth in China sales during the January-September period, making it the fastest-growing luxury car brand in the country.

According to Kirchert, with the younger generation in China becoming the major purchasing force for high-end automobiles, Infiniti is looking to build more stronger brand connections with its customers than the German automakers who have been dominating the market for more than a decade.

"In the past, the rich in China bought luxury cars mainly to show off, but the young people are caring more about if the car they are driving represents the owners' social identity," Kirchert said.

Young buyers are not only considering the car performance, but also the heritage of the brand.

"We are fully aware of this emerging need and searching for the best options to build connections with customers," according to Kirchert. "Our goal is to build lasting connections with customers, even beyond products."

China is a market that no leading automaker would want to miss out as it is set to surpass the United States as the world's largest luxury automobile market by sales volume this year.

Passenger car sales in China neared 1.7 million units in September, according to latest data from industry researcher China Association of Automobile Manufacturers.

Sales of passenger cars exceeded 14 million units during the first three quarters of this year, a jump of more than 10 percent compared with a year ago, the association said.

Dongfeng Infiniti is a fifty-fifty joint venture between Chinese automaker Dongfeng Motor Corp and Japan-based Nissan Motor Co Ltd. The Infiniti brand was initially launched in the US market and then moved as a product line making premium vehicles to various markets. Infiniti is currently headquartered in Hong Kong.

Infiniti will bring more China input to cars sold in the country in the coming years as it seeks to compete with Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi. As part of its ongoing localization efforts, Infiniti is also planning to set up a design center in Beijing that will support its global car development plans.

"The demand from the China market is becoming increasingly diversified and unique, and unlike from any other market in the world. That why it is important for us to localize the design team," Kirchert said.

With about 80 retail stores already set up in major Chinese cities, the company is looking to build a larger sales network to fulfill demands created by the urbanization process.

Kirchert said Infiniti is looking to add roughly 30 stores annually in the following years in China and will cover more small towns.

"We definitely need more channel partners and the service quality of our retail stores should not be compromised due to rapid expansion," he said.

Automobiles using alternative energies will be the next battle-ground for Infiniti.

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