Nissan intends to launch Infiniti in India, local production on the cards
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Japanese automotive giant Nissan Motor Company is looking to launch its Infiniti brand in India to bring its luxury cars portfolio in the country. With Toyota planning to bring its Lexus in the country, this step from Nissan will increase the competition in the market, which is currently dominated by Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi.
Executive Vice President, Nissan, Andy Palmer, said, “The market for luxury in India is growing and the company is looking at ways to enter. Infiniti is our global brand and our intention is to cover the world, including India. We currently sell around 1,50,000 units worldwide and plan to grow this to 5,00,000 units. We are launching the brand in many different countries, though we are yet to find a solution for India.”
The car maker does not intend to import the cars in the country as Completely Built Units (CBUs) but assemble them locally instead. As Palmer said, "We will have to compete with manufacturers like Mercedes Benz and BMW, which are producing somewhat locally. If we get the cars as CBUs, they will become very expensive due to the high import duty."
Succeeding in the luxury car segment of Indian auto market would not exactly be an easy task for Infiniti. At present, Nissan imports the Teana and X-Trail into the Indian market, which has resulted in a higher price tag for them than their locally-made rivals. In the same segment, Mercedes, BMW and Audi have been producing their C-Class, 3-Series and A4 sedans locally. Infiniti will face stiff competition as the German trio is planning to increase their local capacity, thus making even more models more competitive in terms of pricing. In order to counter the move, Nissan is planning to localise the production of Infiniti cars, which will not be launched in the country before 2014.
However, the Japanese company should first test the waters by launching the brand initially through CBU route. It may have to establish a dedicated distribution channel, which takes time. Moreover, the company will have to carefully design its pricing strategy and come up with innovative promotional activities since the Infiniti is not a well recognised brand in India.
According to Palmer, Nissan is eager to raise its market share and increase the market presence. He said, "This is an extremely important market for us. Our expectation, as with any other market, is that it will be 8% market share for us in the mid-term which runs through to 2016." The car maker will launch Infiniti G sedan, Infiniti M sedan, Infiniti EX SUV and Infiniti FX SUV, which cost Rs. 30, 50, 50 and 60 lacs, in the Indian market successively.
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