No plan to launch Infiniti in India, clarifies Nissan

Japan's Nissan Motor Co has denied reports that it plans to launch its luxury brand 'Infiniti' in the Indian market, as reported in a section of the media. Earlier, reports had claimed that the company was preparing to launch the car in India.

Nissan cited the same reason for not launching its premier model as other carmakers like Toyota with its Lexus and Honda with its Acura – namely, the swingeing duty of over 100 per cent charged by India on 'completely built units' or fully imported cars, as well as prohibitively expensive spare parts, and to a certain extent poor road infrastructure.

However, Japan's third largest carmaker Nissan has said that India is a very critical market for the company in the long run, and all its investment plans and product launches are on track. The Yokohama-based company has said that it plans to have as many as nine models in the country by 2012, out of which five will be locally made, as it aims to garner around 5 per cent of the market here. By that time it will also ramp up its employee strength to 3,000 and will have 55 dealership outlets.

''Low operational costs and the growing importance of India in compact car manufacturing make it an attractive proposition to make India a hub,'' K. Tokuyama, managing director and chief executive of Nissan Motor India, told reporters in Mumbai recently. Nissan has said it will invest close to 350 billion yen this year across the globe and India may get a major chunk of the investments. (See: Nissan's Chennai plant to become export hub)

Tokuyama told Business Standard in an interview, ''We have got a global Infiniti business unit, which is a separate unit from Nissan Motor Company. They have been studying all the opportunities and I am sure they will start studying the Indian market, as it is the best potential market in the world.''

The paper apparently interpreted the remark to mean that Nissan would soon launch Infiniti in India. Infiniti's line-up includes sedans, coupes, convertibles and sports utility vehicles and sports coupes, in the range of $33,250 (Rs16 lakh) to $56,050 (Rs27 lakh) in the US market. If launched in India, the same cars would cost between Rs35 lakh and Rs60 lakh.

While volumes are still small, the surge in demand for luxury cars in India in the past couple of years has made many top auto manufacturers launch their products here. The list includes the BMW X6 and M series, Mercedes' new C class, E class and S class as well as the AMG series, Audi R8, the Porsche range of models, Land Rover and Jaguar, among others. However, the apparently more price-conscious Japanese car makers have not joined the bandwagon.