Tokyo: Nissan Motor's luxury Infiniti brand forecast record sales this fiscal year, driven by Chinese demand for models including the Q50 sedan. Global deliveries will probably rise more than 10 per cent to 200,000 units, Johan de Nysschen, Infiniti president, said in an interview in Hong Kong on Friday.
China will account for most of the gains, with sales surging at least 75 per cent to more than 30,000 units, he said.
Infiniti needs Chinese drivers as it targets 10 per cent of the world premium market by 2020.
China is set to overtake the US as the largest luxury car market by 2016, McKinsey predicts. The brand is marketing itself as the "seductive alternative" to lure younger drivers away from market leaders Volkswagen's Audi, Bayerische Motoren Werke (BMW) and Daimler's Mercedes-Benz.
"We are targeting what we call the young-minded premium consumers," said de Nysschen on Bloomberg TV. "We really are forward focused. It's a long-term approach to the business."
Infiniti has a chance to "turn the tables," said Zhu Bin, a Shanghai-based analyst at researcher LMC Automotive. "They know they are not at the center stage when it comes to the middle-aged premium buyers, so have decided to make a long-term investment in the young," said Zhu. "That's probably the wisest approach."
Infiniti will begin building the long-wheelbase versions of the Q50 sedan and QX50 crossover — tailored for Chinese taste — this year at parent Nissan's Xiangyang plant in central China. The Q30 compact car could be the third model it produces in China, Andy Palmer, the company's chief planning officer, said last month in Beijing.
The brand will eventually produce 60 per cent of the cars sold in China locally, said de Nysschen.
Infiniti plans to add seven models in China in 2014 and boost the number of dealerships to 80 by the end of this year, from 67 as of April 8, said Daniel Kirchert, managing director of Infiniti China.
The carmaker is close to announcing a new production site, de Nysschen said. Sales in the United States, its largest market, will probably remain flat at about 120,000 units this fiscal year, he said.