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Infiniti Focuses on China with Plans to Release an Electric Vehicle

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【Summary】Infiniti, the luxury vehicle division of Nissan Motor, announced plans to expand its presence in China. The carmaker already has a very small piece of the local auto market and it intends to continue expanding in that direction. According to the South China Morning Post, the brand is also developing a driverless car that could be released as early as 2020.

Original Michael Cheng    Oct 30, 2016 7:25 PM PT
Infiniti Focuses on China with Plans to Release an Electric Vehicle
Michael Cheng

By Michael Cheng

China's consumption for smart cars and EVs is steadily increasing. In 2015, the country claimed the top spot as the largest EV market over the U.S. and other European countries with well-established EV initiatives. The Chinese government played a crucial role in the shift, as it made deep investments in the sector, through the approval of subsidization programs and the installation of charging stations.

Infiniti, the luxury vehicle division of Nissan Motor, announced plans to expand its presence in China. The carmaker already has a very small piece of the local­ auto market and it intends to continue expanding in that direction. According to the South China Morning Post, the brand is also developing a driverless car that could be released as early as 2020.

"When I think of EV, we design it for China certainly, even as the first market to launch," said Infiniti President Roland Krueger during an interview in Hong Kong. "We are discussing this internally continuously what is the best timing for Infiniti to have such automobiles."

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Sticking with Hybrid

For Infiniti, capturing the local EV market in China will be an uphill struggle. Other carmakers, such as Tesla Motors, BMW AG and Kandi Technologies, have also set their sights on becoming a leading seller of EVs in the area. At the moment, Infiniti is offering a total of nine models in the country (five SUVs and four sedans). Six cars are fuel-dependent, while the others are equipped with hybrid capabilities. It plans to introduce the QX30 in the country before the end of 2016. The crossover SUV will support a 1.6-liter engine (a specification for the Chinese market, since QX30s in the U.S. start with a 2.0-liter engine), which the company hopes will easily pass government tax cut program requirements.

Krueger clarified that it will continue pushing forward with hybrid vehicles in China. Moreover, he explained that, compared to EVs, the brand's hybrid models offer exceptional range. Other automakers do not share the same perspective and believe that hybrid cars are only an interim solution to sustainable transportation.

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Tough Road Ahead 

Carmakers are reporting very different experiences in China. General Motors (Cadillac) and Ford Motor (imported Lincoln) have surpassed their sales projections in the area with a 38 percent and 191 percent increase in the first nine months of the year. During the same period, Infiniti increased its sales by two percent, while lagging behind in global growth by a whopping seven percent.  The group is in the process of realigning its measures to dominate the crowded international luxury car market. By 2020, it hopes to capture up to 10 percent of the niche.

Infiniti is not the only automaker that is taking an aggressive approach to getting ahead in the industry. In 2017, several manufacturers that previously focused on fuel-dependent cars will release their EV offerings to consumers worldwide. Chevy will introduce the highly anticipated Bolt, an all-electric vessel that is capable of driving up to 200 miles on a single charge. Furthermore, Toyota will be launching the Prius Prime, which has superior EPA mileage ratings and lower battery range, compared to the Chevy. 


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