Since its launch in 1989, Nissan’s luxury division, Infiniti, has been more of a BMW and Mercedes-Benz alternative rather than a competitor. Typically, Infiniti buyers want a luxury car, but don’t want the costs or stigma that comes with owning its German counterparts. For these reasons, Infiniti has really been more of a background luxury lineup, even when compared to Lexus.
Infiniti feels that now is the time to change and it plans on starting this change right in BMW and Mercedes’s back yard: Europe. According to Renault-Nissan CEO, Carlos Ghosn, by 2016, Infiniti is expected to sell 100,000 units in the European market, nearly 10 times the cars it sold in 2011. The plan is to build a lineup around the 245-horsepower hot hatchback that Infiniti teased via a concept car dubbed the Etherea in Geneva. This hatchback, which is due out in 2014, is expected to account for at least 50 percent of the 100,000 total sales.
As we said, these are very lofty goals for a car company just hitting a certain market, especially one as crowded as the European one is. Add in the fact that the hatchback segment is especially crowded in Europe and you have one heck of a difficult task to undertake. Given Infiniti continues to produce high-quality cars, it is attainable, but it will require some heavy advertising to overtake other makes in the market.
In the same breath, Ghosn also stated that Infiniti plans to increase global sales to 500,000 units by 2016. That seems slightly more realistic, as it is only an increase of 146,000 total sales. For now we’ll just say that we’re skeptical that Infiniti will actually hit the European sales number. We definitely wish the best to Infiniti, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on this situation.