Infiniti Wants Japan, But Does Japan Want Infiniti?

infiniti wants japan but does japan want infiniti

Johan de Nysschen, at home in Hong Kong

New Infiniti-boss and former Audi U.S. chief Johan de Nysschen wants to bring Infiniti home to Japan. He had said this to me last September in his office in Hong Kong, and he reiterated it again in Detroit when talking to the Wall Street Journal’s man in Japan, Chester Dawson. Back home in Yokohama, people are sucking air through their teeth. “Muzukashi desu ne.” This will be difficult.

Infinitis are sold in about 50 markets worldwide, but not in Japan. In Japan, an Infiniti G is sold as the Nissan Skyline for instance. De Nysschen wants to change this. Back in Hong Kong, he said:

Ironically, we take models that are unique Infiniti platforms, developed for Infiniti, and in Japan, we put a Nissan badge on them. I want to go and speak to my colleagues who are responsible for the Japanese domestic market and explore a way in a pragmatic manner in which we can respect their needs and their expectations and their requirements for the Nissan dealer network, but also that we can give Infiniti the opportunity to establish the brand in its home market.”

To Dawson, de Nysschen said that a study is underway to determine how to integrate the brand into Nissan’s domestic dealer network. De Nysschen loves Japan, he was the head of Audi Japan before he took the U.S. job.

A usually reliable contact at Nissan’s Yokohama HQ gives the project low odds. It is tricky and costly to establish a new brand in Japan, even for a Nissan. In Yokohama, they point at Lexus’ lack of success at home, and that it was not for a lack of trying. At Toyota, the large Crown is an easier sell than a large Lexus. De Nysschen’s boss at Nissan, Andy Palmer, echoed that sentiment to the WSJ:

“It is tough to come into the Japanese market. If you look at Lexus, it hasn’t been an easy journey for them.”

Most likely, the study into Infiniti’s entry of the Japanese market will end in the recommendation to get a firm foot-hold in other markets first.

Join the conversation
2 of 24 comments
  • Power6 Power6 on Jan 20, 2013

    Funny the whole point of the Acura/Infiniti/Lexus was that the Americans and others wouldn't buy a nicer car, also the new dealer network allowed them to give a better experience along with the nicer car, look at the dealer experience from Lexus. We were told Japan did not have those problems. But I guess just like the Germans are peddling to Japan status seekers, the Japanese luxury names have built up enough reputation around the world they want in. Problem is they already sell the products there under the parent name... @bloodnok I guess you don't really understand the genesis of the Lexus, the Celsior/LS400 was developed specifically to Launch the brand in America, and was a unique product to the American market. Does it really matter that they used a different name? You could say the JDM Celsior was a rebadged LS400 which would be more accurate. The other products were already existing JDM products. The ES was based on the Camry but was a home market Windom, how much "the same" is up to opinion but hardly a rebadge. The ES250 was weak but later generations were increasingly developed for the American market as sales ramped up. The story is similar for Acura and Infiniti. Cadillac sells pretty much a fancy (insert other GM car based on same platform here) but isn't taken to task by the same people it this is more a domestic vs. import lover thing or something. My Mom drove Audis and would never drive an Acura "just a fancy Honda" she said. I'm sure some Acura driver felt the same of her "fancy Volkswagen" and we know the Porsche 911 is just a fancy Beetle what a scam...

  • -Cole- -Cole- on Jan 20, 2013

    Will there be an Infiniti GT-R?

  • Jkross22 My use case is perfect for an EV. I drive about 10 miles/day tops, have a home so I can recharge at night, love how much more efficient an EV is over its ICE counterpart and love the instant torque, quietness, lack of moving parts/reliability/cost of maintenance. I'm the poster child for EV ownership.But I don't have one and don't see buying one anytime soon. As intriguing as they are, there is no way in Haiti I'm dropping 50 large minimum to buy one. Not gonna happen. The Bolt looks like a toe, I really don't like Tesla interiors, I love the Lucid and Polestar 2, the H/K electrics are interesting but look at the price of all of these.
  • ToolGuy The only good thing about this car is the wheelbase.
  • MaintenanceCosts So someone really did build that car I drew while not paying attention in second grade. Too bad they screwed it up so badly.
  • MaintenanceCosts A bit after that experience, my family ended up owning an '88 Accord and an '87 Taurus--Detroit's big triumph--at the same time. The win for the Accord wasn't total; the Taurus's engine was better and it was quieter. But the difference in build quality and refinement can't be overstated.There were no rattles in the Accord, the materials are to this day some of the best in any car I've ever owned, every control operated with precision and just the right feel, and the ergonomics were perfect. By contrast, the Taurus was full of rattles from the day we got it, had hard plastic and slapdash fits all over the interior, had mouse-fur upholstery that showed wear by 60k miles, some parts of the control layout were nonsensical, and my car had a number of obvious assembly defects (including silver front bumper paint that all peeled off within five years). The cars' records in service also contrasted dramatically; the Taurus's lower purchase price (as a used car with similar mileage) was totally offset within a few years by higher repair costs.The thing that really puts an exclamation point on the contrast between the two cars is just how much better the Taurus was than its Fox-based predecessors.
  • Art Vandelay I am sure somewhere, somebody is saddened by this.