Nissan Motor Co. plans to sell its Infiniti luxury brand in Japan as it hopes to take advantage of the growing demand for upscale cars in the country, local business daily Nikkei reported. Nissan will roll out the Skyline luxury sports sedan under the Infiniti brand -- to be built at the carmaker's site in the Tochigi Prefecture -- as early as winter of this year, the daily said.
The Skyline is currently being sold as the Infiniti Q50 in the United States with a starting price of $36,700 (JPY3.6 million). However, Nissan has yet to set the sports sedan's price and sales target in Japan. According to the paper, Nissan is planning to sell the new Infiniti-brand cars at existing Nissan dealerships, and has no intentions of creating an exclusive sales network for now. Nikkei added that any expansion of the Infiniti lineup in Japan will depend on sales trends.
In May, Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn set a new profit target for Infiniti, which barely made contributions to the carmaker’s operating profit in recent years, no thanks to a strong yen that had been eating up its export profits. In fact, the Infiniti line accounted for less than 1 percent of Nissan's operating profit in the last two years, Ghosn said at the time.
Now, however, the yen is weaker, which means Infiniti has a chance to offset the launch cost of its new Q50 model and achieve its operating profit margin target this fiscal year, Johan de Nysschen, told Reuters in an interview at the Frankfurt motor show in September. According to de Nysschen, he expected Infiniti to achieve its target for an operating profit margin of 6-7 percent in the fiscal year ending in March 2014. [source: automotive news - sub. required]