Europe to take back seat for Infiniti

* Premium car maker to concentrate on China * Could be 10 years before firm is ready to compete here * Compact SUV could come to UK, however...

Europe to take back seat for Infiniti

Infiniti will require 'another decade' before it can make a concerted bid to take on established premium brands in Europe, according to boss Johan de Nysschen.

He acknowledges that the struggle will be a long one, even with the forthcoming premium compact car to be build in Sunderland on a Mercedes platform, and with Mercedes engines. In fact, he argues that securing a strong position in the lucrative Chinese market is now much more of a priority than investment in European expansion.

'I would rather we attack Europe from a position of strength,' de Nysschen told What Car?. 'Our brand is not very well known [in Europe], we don't have a large customer base and we don't have a large, diversified distribution network. So, we need to be selective about which European markets we enter, and with which products.

'I'd rather concentrate on a smaller number of markets and develop them in a modest but sustainable manner. Our priority has got to be China, almost to the point where we have to succeed in China, no matter what it takes.

'For Europe, we will select our market segments, we will select our engines, we will have the right product range, but I don't think that we will make the concerted push to really begin to take market share in Europe for another 10 years. In the meantime, perhaps I can describe it this way: we will expand our current toe-hold in the European market to perhaps a strong foot-hold.'

De Nysschen also admitted that Infiniti is considering a smaller SUV than its current models, the QX50 and QX70. 'Compact SUVs are a growth segment, and I think we would want to take a long, hard look at that type of vehicle,' he said. 'That applies to the US and China, but if we were to build the car for those countries then of course we'd make it available in Europe as well.'

By John McIlroy