Infiniti leadership had one message for its franchised dealers when they gathered for the brand’s national retailer meeting earlier this month in Phoenix.
Without hesitation, brand officials declared, “there is no better time to be an Infiniti retailer.”
Part of the reason for Infiniti’s optimism is the brand’s new CUV — the Infiniti JX. Officials hope the model delivers significant sales volume gains.
Ben Poore, vice president of the Infiniti business unit for Nissan North America, highlighted the JX offers best-in-class gas mileage, a new level of safety with back-up collision intervention and more interior room than the Mercedes R350, Acura MDX and Audi Q7.
“The Infiniti JX is poised to dominate one of the largest segments in luxury, accounting for more than one out of every four luxury sales,” Poore emphasized.
Poore also touched out several other topics with Infiniti’s communication’s department:
We are here at the Infiniti National Retailer Meeting in Phoenix. What is the temperature of the group?
Poore: Our dealers, they are very excited. This really is a celebration of the all-new JX. I was just outside with several of them (dealers) who just drove the car. I mean, it’s a product that absolutely hits in the heart of the market: luxury family. This is a place where we’ve never played before so, for them it’s tremendous growth and for us it means tremendous growth. And, the product is just spot-on in all of the aspects of safety, technology, value, I mean it’s got it all so the dealers are extremely fired-up about the future of the brand.
The Infiniti JX start-of-production begins in Smyrna, Tenn. What does this mean to you and the brand?
Poore: This is important. We are going to produce some vehicles here in the U.S. and we’ve made that decision based on the strengthening of the yen. And there is no better place to build than in Smyrna. We know the quality is there, and we know that the quality will be there with the JX. It’s a great opportunity for that plant, for our corporation frankly, to take an Infiniti product, prove our quality here building it in the U.S. and then really having a shorter pipeline to get that out to the marketplace.
What is your outlook for the Infiniti brand in 2012? How will the new Infiniti JX play into the sales plan?
Poore: We expect growth in 2012. In 2011 obviously we had some challenges. Had a tsunami hit us, no one could have ever expected that. Our sales were down about 5 percent, by the way, a little bit better (performance) than our Asian-luxury competitors who were down in sales more than we were. So, we recovered fast, and now in 2012 it’s all about getting on the growth plan again. JX is center of that strategy. JX is all-new and will be all incremental volume for Infiniti. So, through the JX and through continued marketing of our current products, we’re going to get back on a growth path for 2012.
Infiniti has a large presence at the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament this year, what can we expect?
Poore: We had a big presence last year and it’s only going to get bigger. We are going to do more activation on the ground. More overall advertising. More integration in terms of the bracket challenge. And, the nice part is that the tournament is literally the centerpiece of our JX launch. Everybody there pretty much went to college so you know there is a higher level of income in general in terms of the fans and that is right where we need to be. Lots of luxury vehicle driving families there and it will be the centerpiece of our JX launch.
There will be an F1 race in Austin, Texas in 2012. What does this mean for the Infiniti brand in the U.S.?
Poore: F1 has been out of the U.S. for a while and it’s got to come back here. It’s literally the number-one global motorsport program. Whereas F1 hasn’t been big in the U.S. it’s because there hasn’t been a race here. So, not only is there an upcoming event in Austin, there is another one coming in the New York/New Jersey area. So finally we’ll have two here and Infiniti is a major global sponsor of the Red Bull racing team. Having Red Bull, the excitement of it, they are the world-champions for the last two years, and our tie-ins with them takes the excitement of our brand to the next level. Infiniti is all about inspired performance — there’s not a better way to represent that than with Formula 1.
An online video containing Poore’s comments also can be viewed below.