Does the world need another luxury car brand? Hold up, let me rephrase that: does the world need another $250k luxury crossover with a new brand that sounds like a bad Infiniti knockoff? Well, whether we need it or not, it’s coming… and from Britain, not China! Or maybe it does?
Spokesfolks from Eterniti Motors tell Autocar that their new brand will launch at the forthcoming Frankfurt auto show, and that their first product will be the squashed-roof CUV shown in this sketch. Tentatively named “Hamera,” this theoretical competitor to the forthcoming Bentley SUV will be built in tiny (100 per year) volume, and will be based on “elements of other vehicles.” Eterniti reps say that high-end luxury CUVs are “a new market niche,” and while the development of competitor model like the Bentley prove that the market exists for overpriced luxo-barges, “we will be first in the segment.” Meanwhile, just as the name sounds reminiscent of Infiniti, the vehicle itself sounds a lot like the Cadillac SRX-based DeTomaso “D’oh-ville.” But I’ll go out on a limb and guess that Eterniti will be even less successful than that doughy, confused-looking lump. Autocar somehow forgot to ask a few questions. Must we do the dirty work?
Now who’s behind that new miracle car? Should be a simple enough question to answer. Apparently it is not that easy. An email dispatched to Eterniti’s HQ somewhere in London asked:
“What cars will be shown in Frankfurt? Where are they produced? Who is Eterniti? Who owns Eterniti?”
We are still waiting for an answer.
Left to our own devices (such as Google and a few Whois queries), we had to draw our own conclusions. If we are wrong, talk to us.
The man behind Eterniti appears to be Kenny Chen, sometimes known as Kenny Jen-Te Chen. He is the son of a Chinese real estate developer who became rich riding the Chinese real estate bull. Aspirational Kenny started a Porsche dealership in China’s resort city of Qingdao. Like many rich sons, he started a racing team. Real money was made by floating the dealership at the London AIM (Alternative Investment Market). The stock had a nice pop after it was listed.
Probably due to Chen’s early childhood infatuation with Porsche, the company was given a German-sounding name, “GruppeM”. In 2008, the company delisted itself. Then it gets a bit murky. Being a private company, there is no need for disclosure and all Bloomberg has is this.
At around the same time, GruppeM secured the importership for Aston Martin, and Kenny Chen henceforth called himself “CEO of Aston Martin China.” Aston Martin did not necessarily set the Chinese market on fire, a state of affairs that is reflected by its website, which looks like the world came to an end a few years ago. Aston Martin still lists only two dealers ion all of China.
This being the silly season, the interwebs were aflutter today. Some twitterati think Nissan should sue for infringement of their Infiniti brand. Some think Nissan is somehow behind it. I reached a fairly highly placed contact at Nissan. He said he had never heard of Eterniti and found the story amusing. Who knows, if they take the ample Twitter traffic and use it as proof that there is the fabled “Likelihood of Confusion”, they might find a London judge in a wig and a funny outfit who sees it their way.
I’d save my money, and sit it out. From here to Eterniti is a rough road, and it ends at a cliff.
If Kenny wants to join the ranks of failed supercar makers (some names come to mind, I will not mention them in the name of a harmonious society), then all power to him. People can do with their money whatever they want. Especially when the company is private.