In the European market Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are the main players, and that’s about it. There is no comparison in sales volumes when it comes to luxury brands from foreign automakers. The inability to make any inroads comes down to the highly-potent combination of two things; nationalistic tendencies (homegrown pride) and product excellence.
Case in point: here in the United States, BMW is the number one manufacturer, Mercedes-Benz isn’t far behind and Audi is growing by leaps and bounds. Here though, Cadillac, Infiniti (despite not being a major player) and Lexus also sell in volume. Infiniti in particular is looking to change this, with a goal of reaching 500,000 unit sales globally by 2016.
Given last year’s figures were under 150,000, that is a tall order to achieve. According to Automotive News, its global goal includes boosting European sales to 100,000 units. Infiniti debuted in Europe four years ago. To help achieve its goals, Infiniti has made a deal with Mercedes; future Infinitis will share engines and platforms with their Mercedes counterparts. Infiniti is looking to a production version of the Etherea Concept to be its biggest seller This front-wheel drive compact model will share a platform with the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
Evidence of its heavily European emphasis is revealed by its manufacturing location; it will be produced by Magna Steyr in Poland. This also is indicative of a larger Infiniti plan to push for sales in Eastern European countries like Poland, Turkey and Russia rather than more established markets such as the United Kingdom, France and Germany. Also part of its push in the region is diesel-powered models of its current lineup. When Infiniti debuted, it was with with gasoline-only engines. Will Infiniti’s plan be successful? They’ve brought in Audi executive Johan de Nysschen to help lead the charge. The Etherea looks good, but it has stiff competition in the form of the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class. The production Etherea must be a value proposition if Infiniti hopes to make any inroads in Europe.