Nissan’s upmarket division Infiniti opened its new design studio in London tonight – heralding the start of a new push to establish Infiniti as a proper competitor to premium makes such as BMW and Audi.
The company is planning to expand its model line-up by 60% by the end of the decade, topped by the Q80 Inspiration concept car to be shown at the 2014 Paris motor show.
To power this expansion comes a new string of styling studios; the new Infiniti Design London centre in Paddington is alongside Nissan’s base in west London. It originated the design of the Q80, which has not yet been shown.
It’s the first of three new satellite Infiniti studios around the world: next up is the Beijing design centre in China, opening in autumn 2014, followed by the San Diego styling base in the US due to open at the end of the year.
‘A move to purify Infiniti design’
Shiro Nakamura, Infiniti’s chief creative officer and senior vice president of Nissan Motor Corporation said Infiniti stood at the start of a new era of design, acknowledging that it had failed to achieve the stand-out needed to tempt buyers away from German competition.
‘This is the first step of a global initiative to purify and reinforce the distinctiveness of Infiniti design,’ he said.
‘With the expansion of the portfolio, Infiniti design will keep evolving. Having dedicated studios is essential to deepen Infiniti design furthermore.’
Simon Cox heads up the Paddington studio
Veteran British designer Simon Cox, formerly of Isuzu, Cadillac and GM Europe, is the director of Infiniti’s design centre. He leads a team of 20 in Paddington, including eight designers.
‘We are here to deliver a European take on Infiniti,’ said Cox. ‘We are not just in competition with the other Infiniti design studios around the world, but working with them. We all want the same thing – new cars that people are wowed by whether they are in the US, China, Asia or Europe.’
Infiniti is anchoring its new turnaround on design, said Nakamura. It needs the forthcoming product offensive, led by 2015’s Q30 small hatchback, to have knock-out looks as well as impressive pricing, slick dealers and generous equipment.
It sold fewer than 400 new cars in the UK in 2013; Infiniti sales in 2014 have more than doubled year to date, but remain minuscule compared with the likes of Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Jaguar.