Nissan’s Infiniti to exit western Europe early 2020

Infiniti QX50 VC-Turbo images

Nissan Motor’s premium brand Infiniti stated on Tuesday it will depart western Europe early next year, as it renovates its worldwide operations and turns its attention to sales in the leading two auto markets.

Infiniti stated it will stop the Q30 sedan and the QX30 sport-utility vehicle (SUV) and cease their production by the middle of this year at Nissan’s manufacturing factory in Sunderland. Both models are sold worldwide but produced only in Britain.

The move comes as Infiniti looks to divert its resources to markets with bigger opportunities, including China and the United States, from a region where non-European premium brands are having hard time to compete against local players including Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

Nissan also recently discarded plans to construct its new X-Trail SUV in Britain amid the uncertainty concerning Brexit, saying it had taken the decision to optimize its investments by making the next generation model in Japan.

“Western Europe remains the most challenging and competitive region for premium cars,” stated Trevor Hale, Infiniti’s chief spokesman, to Reuters. Infiniti’s sales in western Europe almost halved to 5,800 vehicles in 2018.

Along with the tough competition, the Japanese premium brand, headquartered in Hong Kong since 2012, is having a hard time to effectively meet emissions and other regulatory requirements in the country, Hale stated, referring to stringent Euro 6 emissions requirements and other regulatory challenges.

“The commercial reality for Infiniti in western Europe is that there is simply no visibility of a important and sustainable business, especially given the regulatory challenges,” he stated.

Infiniti stated an exit from western Europe will permit it to focus on its initiative to “electrify” a good portion of its product portfolio from 2021 and stop diesel offerings.

The brand prepares to concentrate more on its SUV lineup in North America, bring five new or significantly-redesigned automobiles to China over the next five years, improve quality of sales and residual value and realize more synergies with the automaker.

“This is all part of Infiniti’s vision to become a top challenger brand in the premium segment,” it stated.

As it plans to withdraw from western Europe, Infiniti stated it is working to discover alternative opportunities for workers who would be affected, consulting with employee representatives where needed and identifying opportunities for transition and training support where appropriate.

Infiniti has 51 workers in its western Europe operations. There are 55 Infiniti retail stores located in western Europe.

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