Thursday, June 01, 2006

Infiniti in Europe: what are their chances?

Can Infiniti threat the hegemony of Mercedes and BMW in the luxury segment in Europe? Well, of course not, at least not for quite a few years. For starters the target of Infiniti in Europe should be Lexus, a brand that will greatly expand in the next years mainly due to the arrival of diesel engines. So, assuming that Infiniti will have diesels right from the start, one can envisage Lexus as a reasonable competitor for comparison of sales numbers. Infiniti has quite a few weapons to fight Lexus in Europe: more competitive price, more sporty and emotional design (at least the new G-sedan and the next G-coupé) and also something related to Renault and the way the French manufacturer will handle its new brand. I don’t know how to qualify it, it’s a je ne sais quoi, a savoir-faire of Renault that will greatly benefit Infiniti.

Of course Infiniti will not steal sales only from Lexus. One can include in this target-group base versions of Mercedes and BMW equivalent models, top versions of mainstream manufacturers (Renault, VW, Ford, Peugeot, etc.), premium-wannabes (FWD Audis, Saab 9-3, Volvo S40/V50). So everyone has reasons to seriously look at Infiniti. However, a key factor must be provided in order to bring success to Infiniti. Besides the introduction of diesel engines and some minor changes of design, interior trims, etc. one thing needs to be accomplished: the communication, marketing strategy and dealer network must be completely independent from Renault. Nothing wrong with Renault, it’s just the way things work in the luxury segment! But don’t worry, Renault people know their stuff and will accomplish these goals with success.

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