Nissan has decided to shut down its Infiniti brand in western Europe. The vehicle, which was designed to rival other premium cars like BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi, will no longer be sold in 2020. The company has 60,000 customers in Europe, 10,000 of which are in the UK.
Only 750 new Infinitis were registered in the UK in all of 2018. The brand, which is sold at six UK dealers, has been described as unsustainable by a company spokesperson. The car was launched in western Europe in 2009 and has faced an uphill struggle to establish itself. Though it sold approximately 150,000 cars last year in the US, its biggest market, and 46,000 in China, the brand has not been able to compete with historically upscale European models in Western Europe. In the rest of the world, the Infiniti Motor Company will continue selling cars in Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the US and China.
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In a statement, the company said, “Infiniti and Nissan Motor Corporation are confident in this restructuring plan for the long-term vision and success of the brand, for its employees, customers and shareholders. The company will place more focus on its SUV line-up in North America, bring five new vehicles to China over the next five years, work to improve quality of sales and residual value, and realize more synergies with Nissan Motor Company.”
The company now seems committed to other innovations, such as electrification. The move will affect numerous operations, including the shutting down of the Nissan's Sunderland factory, loss of employment at UK factories, and the closure of six UK dealers in Birmingham, Reading, Stockport, Leeds, Belfast and Glasgow. The company has pledged to honor the current warranties of approximately 10,000 Infiniti owners in the UK. They will progressively offer more information on aftercare on its customer website.
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In Europe, Infiniti, like all other car makers, would have to invest heavily in electrification to reduce its fleet emissions, which will be mandated at an average of 95g/km of CO2 as of next year. The lack of buyers to sustain the substantial R&D sums needed for electrified technology has led the brand to make its decision to end European operations.
Nissan recently shelved plans to build its new X-Trail SUV in the UK in light of the insecurity created by Brexit. It will now boost its investments by manufacturing the next generation model in Japan. Inifinit will also shift its focus to its SUV lineup in North America, adding five new or redesigned cars to China in the next five years, enhancing the quality of sales and residual value and creating more collaborations with its parent company.