It has been rumored for quite some time now that Infiniti is preparing to attack the premium segment for the first time with a new compact hatchback model. While rumors are out for about three years now, Infiniti decided to keep it a secret and only today the company confirmed that such a model is indeed under development and that it will arrive in 2015.
The model will be built as a production version for the Etherea concept unveiled at the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. While previous rumors suggested such a model will be offered with an electric drive, we expect it to be offered with both gasoline and diesel engines, but also with the same hybrid power train featured in the concept.
Infiniti’s new compact hatchback will be just one of the new models underlining the brand’s ambition to become a major worldwide competitor. Still, it will have to take on models likeAudi A3 and BMW 1-Series - models that are leaders on the market.
The new model will be built at the Nissan’s production base in Sunderland, United Kingdom where Infiniti plans to invest around £250mn and to create an additional 1,000 jobs.
gallery: Infiniti Etherea
Infiniti today confirmed that, consistent with its global expansion plans, it will manufacture vehicles in Europe from Nissan’s award winning production base in Sunderland, United Kingdom.
The announcement represents a substantial investment of around £250mn into the facility and is expected to create a further 1,000 jobs at Sunderland and across the UK.
Colin Dodge CBE, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd Executive Vice President and Chief Performance Officer, stated: "This milestone, our first premium product to be manufactured at Sunderland, reconfirms our commitment to UK manufacturing and the ongoing success of the plant, which is moving up the value chain.
"Just as important, the new Infiniti, which will be exported around the world, is being developed with help from our London design center and our European Technical Centre at Cranfield."
Attending a ceremony at Sunderland, Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "Sunderland will be the only place in the world to make this new premium compact car. Nissan in the UK goes from strength to strength - not only will the new car be made here and exported all over the world, the UK has already contributed to its design and development.
"Today’s news is a strong endorsement of the quality of Britain’s car industry, which is creating jobs, taking on apprentices and contributing to building a stronger economy. The auto sector is living up to being one of the great success stories of our industrial strategy and a testimony to government and private sector working together in close partnership."
Prime Minister David Cameron added: "This investment is excellent news for the North East and another vote of confidence for UK manufacturing.
"The continued success of Nissan in the UK demonstrates the strength of the car industry here, and its importance, as we rebalance and grow the economy.
"This announcement shows how the car industry in partnership with the Government continues to win important long term investment projects, in a tough competitive sector; helping the UK to get ahead in the global race."
The exciting all-new premium entry compact Infiniti model is expected to be produced from 2015 and will allow the company to compete within the heart of the premium segment for the first time, underlining the brand’s ambition to become a major worldwide competitor.
When production begins, Infiniti will become the first new car brand to be manufactured in the UK on this scale in 23 years.
UK Production of Infiniti is expected to create an additional 1,000 jobs across the country, including 280 new jobs at the Sunderland Plant, with a capacity to produce 60,000 Infiniti models per year.
The announcement coincides with the news that this year, Nissan’s Sunderland Plant will produce more than half a million cars for the first time - the first UK manufacturer to achieve this milestone. During 2012, employment on site passed 6,000 for the first time and global exports from the plant now exceed five million units.
Because of capacity limitations at Sunderland, securing the new Infiniti will mean that a C-segment hatchback previously announced for the plant in April will be manufactured elsewhere. Sourcing for this vehicle will be decided and announced at a later date.