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Infiniti brand may debut in India!

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Affluent Indian automobile buyers may get another brand to choose from. Nissan, Japan’s third largest car maker, is looking at the possibility of launching Infiniti, a luxury brand owned by it, in India.

Known for its luxurious features and power-packed driving characteristics, Infiniti is a premium brand which competes with benchmark ones globally such as Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, Audi and Acura.

Kiminobu Tokuyama, managing director and CEO, Nissan Motor India, told Business Standard, “We have got a global Infiniti business unit, which is a separate unit from Nissan Motor Company. They have been studying all the opportunities and I am sure they will start studying the Indian market, as it is the best potential market in the world.”

Nissan has been pushing for expansion of the Infiniti brand into newer markets across the globe — Taiwan, South Korea, Russia, Ukraine, China and Western Europe over the years. The brand is popular in the very developed automotive markets of the US and Canada.

However, if launched in India, all Infiniti models would carry a hefty price tag, as they would not be locally made and will have to pay 100 per cent duty.

Infiniti’s line-up includes sedans, coupes, convertibles, sports utility vehicles (SUV) and SUV coupes, falling in the range of $33,250 (Rs 16 lakh) - $56,050 (Rs 27 lakh) in the US market. These vehicles are propelled by engines of capacities ranging from 3.6 litre, V6, 328-bhp to 5.6 litre, V8, 320-bhp.

Upon a 100 per cent increase, the price of Infiniti models here would be in the range of Rs 34-57 lakh, putting it in direct comparison with the German car makers.

The surge in demand for luxury cars in India in the past couple of years has made many top auto manufacturers launch their products here. The list includes BMW X6 and the M series, Mercedes new C class, E class and S class, as well as the AMG series, Audi R8, the Porsche range of models, Land Rover and Jaguar, to name some.

“The recent entry of so many luxury car makers, with some more brands readying to enter, shows the potential of the luxury market in India. Although the volumes generated are far lower than some other overseas markets, it has been growing in very high double-digits recently,” said a city-based auto analyst.

The launch of a luxury brand in India will bolster the brand image of Nissan in the domestic market; it has a recognition problem despite being in the market for over four years. The company currently sells just two models in India (X-Trail and Teana), both imported.

However, within the next nine months, the company will be launching its first locally produced car from its Chennai plant. It is also preparing to add two more products from the completely built unit (import) route, which will be the sports convertible 370Z and a premium SUV Murano.