Infiniti, Nissan's upmarket car brand, promises to deliver BMW driving qualities with Lexus levels of service and customer satisfaction when it launches in the UK next autumn.
Four cars on the way
Four brand new cars will spearhead the move. There's the recently launched G35 saloon, and the G37 coupe revealed at the New York Show today.
They are competitors for BMW's 3 Series range, and will be available with rear- or four-wheel drive.
The almost production-ready EX four-wheel-drive crossover concept car, unveiled in New York, is a rival for BMW's X3. Later this year Infiniti will take the wraps off the next FX, its BMW X5-sized contender.
All are currently powered by V6 or V8 petrol engines, but Infiniti is working with its partner Renault on a V6 diesel, to be ready by 2010. It claims it will match BMW's 3.0-litre diesel for performance and refinement. A petrol-electric hybrid is also under investigation, although this is primarily for the anti-diesel US market.
A BMW Series-sized saloon will definitely be introduced within three years. Infiniti is also conducting studies to see whether there is the sales potential for a smaller car to rival the BMW 1 Series, though nothing is yet in the future product plan.
Dealerships will resemble art galleries
The company is spending €500 million on setting up in Europe, including €10 million to tune the cars' ride and handling for European tastes. Nissan's technical centre at Cranfield, Bedfordshire, is playing a leading role in the suspension work.
Eighty dealers will initially be established across Europe, with one major sales group to represent the brand in each country. The UK is expected to be Infiniti's top European market, ahead of Germany.
The sales and aftersales experience will be modelled on Lexus principles, with a 'customer is king' approach.
Dealerships are being designed to resemble hotel lobbies, lounges or art galleries rather than car showrooms, and Infiniti promises everything possible will be done to ensure owners are not inconvenienced when it comes to servicing and maintenance.
Pricing will follow the Lexus model, with an 'everything-included' approach, ensuring the cars offer top value for money against their BMW, Audi and Mercedes rivals.
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