Nissan Motor Co. (7201)’s luxury Infiniti brand plans to attract younger Chinese buyers who are more open-minded about trying out new cars because they find an Audi, Mercedes or BMW too commonplace.
Luxury buyers in China, the world’s largest auto market, are younger than the average owner of premium cars globally and are less concerned about a brand’s heritage than its present-day image, Johan de Nysschen, president of Infiniti, said in an interview in Hong Kong.
“Ironically, these three German brands have become so successful that they’ve become almost a little bit ubiquitous,” de Nysschen, who formerly headed Audi’s U.S. operations, said in an interview with Zeb Eckert on Bloomberg Television’s “Asia Business.” “They’re everywhere. And this is where we see a big opportunity with this new emerging premium consumer, to offer them an alternative, reinvent the notion of exclusivity.”
Infiniti is targeting 10 percent of the world premium market by 2020. To do that, the marque has to win market share from Volkswagen AG’s Audi, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz in China, which McKinsey & Co. predicts will overtake the U.S. to become the top market for luxury vehicles by 2016.
The three German automakers, which all build cars in China, account for about three of every four premium cars sold in the Asian nation, LMC data show. China levies a 25 percent duty on imported cars, making them less competitive against locally produced models.
Infiniti expects to begin local production of two long-wheelbase models, the Q50 sedan and QX50 crossover, next year. Automakers offer stretched versions of their models for China, as consumers there prefer to be chauffeured and seek more backseat comfort.
“Infiniti will be a boutique brand,” de Nysschen said. “Rather than try to park an Infiniti in every driveway, we would like to park them in the right driveways and present the product and the brand that will appeal to those people who want something different.”
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