Nissan announced last Thursday that Austrian contract manufacturer Magna Steyr will build a new premium compact car for the Infiniti brand. According to Infiniti boss Andy Palmer, the vehicle will help their brand reach new customers and grow in key markets like Western Europe.
Competing Against Premium Compact Cars with a Strategic Partnership
It was previously stated by the Infiniti execs that the entry-level model will compete with premium compact cars such as Audi A3 and Mercedes Benz A-class. The vehicle, which is based on Infiniti Etherea concept, is expected to use Mercedes’ MFA compact platform that underpins the new A and B-class cars.
Daimler, Mercedes and Renault-Nissan’s parent company, announced a strategic cooperation between the two automakers last 2010. In addition, the parent company will supply a bevy of pre-assembled parts to Infiniti. By using Mercedes components, Infiniti will dodge huge development costs, while its supplier will receive licensing fee for each manufactured models.
Meet the Magna Steyr
Magna Steyr is the European unit of the Canada-based Magna International. It has engineered the Infiniti cars, and is expected to build the new entry-level vehicles in its Graz, Austria plant. It is believed that about 50,000 to 60,000 units of Infiniti car per year can be built in the said factory. The Austria plant is also where the Peugeot RCZ coupe, Mini Countryman SUV and Aston Martin Rapide was built.
What Lies Ahead for Nissan Infiniti
With manufacturing process slated to start in 2014, Nissan did not give any more details about the upcoming Infiniti car. There were also no words whether it will be sold outside of the European market. However, it should be recalled that the car manufacturer stated last December 2011 that they want to release the entry-level car worldwide to acquire 10 percent share of the global luxury market.
It was in 2008 when Infiniti started selling cars in Europe. However, they made slow progress against established German premium rivals and Toyota’s Lexus. Last year, though, they sold 3,681 cars in Europe. Automotive industry leader JATO Dynamics said that it is a 54 percent increase from last year.
Nissan and Magna are on the finishing touches of their manufacturing and supply agreements. They pointed out that the entry-level vehicle will have a combination of driving performance and style that can compete with German luxury brands. Infiniti hopes that the production car version of the Etherea concept will find a receptive market among young Europeans.
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