Infiniti Gives up on Western Europe, Will Leave in Early 2020
Infiniti will instead invest in more promising markets, such as the United States and China.
Infiniti announced Tuesday that as part of a "restructuring plan" that will favor the large United States and China markets, the automaker will cease operations in Western Europe.
Infiniti promises that it will assist impacted workers in finding employment and negotiate end-of-franchise agreements with its retail outlets. Current Infiniti dealers will continue to handle service, warranty work, maintenance, and used vehicle sales until Infiniti has a plan for where to distribute these responsibilities. Both vehicles manufactured at Infiniti's Sunderland, United Kingdom factory—the Q30 hatchback and QX30 subcompact crossover—will exit production by the middle of 2019.
Infiniti explained that its decision to depart the Western European market will not affect its Eastern Europe, Middle Eastern, or East Asia operations, all of which show encouraging growth. Most promising of all are the Chinese and United States markets, where Infiniti plans to invest heavily in order to increase its competitiveness. Infiniti promises that five new models will launch in China over the next five years and it will capitalize on America's continuously growing demand for crossovers and SUVs.
Globally, Infiniti intends to improve the sales experience at its dealers and boost its vehicles' residual values, some of which will be done by future-proofing the brand's portfolio. It will offer no new diesel options from 2021 onward when it will begin a campaign to electrify its entire lineup on a new platform. This will then be centered around a series of electric crossovers whose design will be derived from its QX Inspiration concept.
Infiniti also promises to "realize more synergies with" its parent company Nissan, which an Infiniti spokesperson's statement suggests could mean adapting electrified Nissan architectures for use by Infiniti.
"Infiniti markets and sells independently as a premium brand," a company representative explained to The Drive. "There are, however, synergies that we can use within the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance. For example, regarding our announcement to have most of our all-new vehicles be based on electric powertrains after 2021, we can use the technologies developed from the expertise of Nissan but adapt them to Infiniti and the appropriate driving experience."