Infiniti officially opened its new global headquarters in Hong Kong Tuesday, signaling the rising importance of Asia for high-end automakers.
The relocation, almost 3,000 km from Nissan's Yokohama headquarters, heralds Infiniti's expansion plans with China a key tenet.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, opening the Infiniti HQ, said Hong Kong is an ideal base for continued growth in the world's largest auto market.
"Why? Because Hong Kong is the door to China," Ghosn said. "It's also a place where you can easily connect with the southeast of Asia, so that's why we said let's get out of Tokyo, let's go to Hong Kong, put the whole team together so we can reinforce the identity of the brand and the people working for the brand and be very near, and interacting with, the main promising market for Infiniti, which is China."
Infiniti unveiled a long-wheel-base version of the flagship M sedan at the Beijing auto show in April, and also revealed plans for local production of additional models in China.
China, the brand's second largest market, will be home to a global expansion that includes Tennessee production of the JX crossover and, from 2014, European-built Infinitis in partnership with Magna Steyr.
"To pursue the 10% market share for Infiniti, this means we're going to move from something around 150,000 cars sold last year to something around 500,000 within the next four to five years," Ghosn said. "In order to do that, it's very difficult to build all those cars in Japan."
Just as important for customers in Hong Kong, Infiniti's corporate arrival will shortly be followed by a first dealership.
Donald M.T. Yip, CEO of Dah Chong Hong Holdings, whose firm sells Nissan cars in Hong Kong, says he expects great things from Infiniti as the brand goes head-to-head with global rivals.
"In Hong Kong, luxury car sales are almost 50% of the car sales today," said Yip. "So when Infiniti comes to Hong Kong, I think it's a very good time and will probably gives us some excitement in terms of sales. We can do that with the help of Infiniti."
Infiniti aims for 500,000 deliveries annually by 2016, making higher sales and share in China crucial to paving a global highway ahead.
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