Philipp Heldt
Managing Director Mexico and Latin America
INFINITI
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View from the Top

Future Local Manufacturer Seeks Further Growth

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 15:08

Q: What are your strategies to build on the steady growth the company has experienced?

A: Over the last three years we have experienced accelerated double-digit growth. Nevertheless, 2017 is a more challenging year for everyone in the industry. As a brand, we expect to keep growing and strengthening INFINITI’s presence in Mexico but at a slower pace than we did in previous years.

Our geographic expansion has been a priority for the brand through 2016 and the first half of 2017. Sales success has driven INFINITI to grow its dealer network, offering a better service to our clients and increasing brand awareness in the country. Our dealership network now has a total of 12 INFINITI Centers, up from the nine we had at the end of 2016. One of the cities we targeted was Cancun. We also expanded our presence in the Mexico City metropolitan area with a new dealership in Toluca and another in Satelite. The latter was our latest opening and it is now the biggest dealership we have in Mexico and in Latin America.

Q: How are you adapting your portfolio to ensure the brand’s success in the market?

A: We plan to continue growing our product portfolio just like we have done since 2015 and particularly through 2016. This past year we introduced our completely new QX30, which allowed us to compete in the compact crossover segment. We also launched a makeover of the QX60, which is our bestselling SUV, and new versions of our best-selling sedan, the Q50, including a new top-of-the-line version called Q50 400 Sport featuring a new twin-turbo V6 engine with 400hp. This model is allowing us to participate in the high-performance sedan subsegment, which we had not previously explored.

In 2017, we have already launched the new Q60 coupé. This is a renovated version of the coupé we already had but it now incorporates the new image of the brand in terms of design and technology. We will make further product announcements in 2017 but we do not have defined dates for their arrival. Our Q50 2018 will include several enhancements in terms of exterior design, especially for the high-end versions. INFINITI already presented its new QX50 concept at the Detroit Auto Show, so it could arrive in the near future to Mexico. The brand also teased what the new QX80 could look like at the New York Auto Show, which shows what the future could be like for our top-of-the-line SUVs.

Q: How is your manufacturing venture in Mexico advancing?

A: INFINITI experienced a record year in 2016, not only in Mexico but worldwide with over 200,000 vehicles sold. To cater to this growth, the company has increased its production footprint beyond Japan, reaching the US, China, the UK and now Mexico with the new COMPAS joint-venture between Daimler and the Renault-Nissan Alliance. The plant located in Aguascalientes will satisfy global demand and address the domestic market. We have not yet decided which product we will manufacture there but we know it will be a further addition to our current lineup. The project is advancing on schedule and we expect to start production by the end of 2017.

Q: In terms of technology, how is INFINITI innovating to address the latest trends in the automotive industry?

A: We just presented our innovative variable-compression turbo (VC-T) engine. Having variable compression in a combustion engine has been a long-pursued dream in the automotive industry because it allows for the combination of high-performance and high-power configurations with fuel-efficient results. INFINITI is the first brand to present a production-ready design. We expect to include this engine in at least one of our products in the near future.

Our VC-T technology strengthens our vision of launching industry-first developments. INFINITI was the first automaker to introduce a 360° camera, an active hydraulic suspension, fully electronic or Direct Adaptive Steering (DAS) and a Safety Shield comprised of an array of cameras and sensors that allow the vehicle to brake by itself while driving forward or backward and to stay in its lane.