Give us an overview of the scope and extent of Infiniti’s operations within the GCC region.
Infiniti International Markets’ head office is based in the UAE and it oversees three diverse regions across the Middle East, parts of Asia and Eastern Europe. Our dealership presence in the GCC extends across all six countries, with a total of 13 showrooms, and 19 service centres currently in operation – two more of each are due to open later in 2021. Many of Infiniti’s partnerships with dealers began as far back as 2005, when Infiniti made its official debut in the region.
How does the key markets in the region (UAE and Saudi Arabia, for example) compare to mature markets like those in North America and Europe?
The markets in this region can’t really be compared to markets like North America when it comes to the sales of Infiniti vehicles as they’re both unique in every possible way, and we can explore just three of the main points.
Firstly, when it comes to distributor networks, in other regions there are usually many for each market. In the Middle East, the standard is one dealership partner per market, except the UAE, where we have two.
Secondly, there are distinctions when it comes to product. Worldwide, and in line with market trends, Infiniti’s SUV-line tends to dominate, more specifically in the mid-size SUV crossover segment. In the Middle East region, however, Infiniti’s luxurious full-size SUV, the QX80, is the model of choice, accounting for 38 per cent of all model sales in the first quarter of the year. In 2020, we launched the exclusive 2021 QX80 Black Edition grade, designed specifically for Middle East customers. In the Middle East, our customer base steers younger, and is often drawn to the latest technology and features. This inclination is typically reflected by customers in this region opting for higher grades and trims than customers in other markets.
What are some of the plans you have to grow Infiniti’s presence within the region?
Infiniti is set to welcome a new generation of products with two models in the SUV line-up, the all-new QX55 and QX60. The QX55 is a design-centric, provocative crossover coupe that pays homage to the iconic FX with a dynamic roofline. The all-new model will also feature Infiniti premium infotainment system with smartphone integration, and the brand’s award-winning Variable Compression Turbo engine with an all-wheel drive system.
The fully-redesigned 2022 Infiniti QX60 is set to arrive in-market next year. Additionally, there will be two new Infiniti showroom openings before the end of the year, one in Qatar and another in Saudi Arabia.
Infiniti recently unveiled the 2022 QX60 in Dubai. Tell us about the decision to choose Dubai for the physical reveal.
As part of its global debut, Infiniti unveiled the next generation QX60 in the UAE as one of three markets in the world where the 2022 model was made available to view in-person. The physical launch underpins the region’s importance to the brand, especially as the all-new QX60 caters well to needs of our target audience in the region.
Later on this year, we’ll celebrate the launch of the QX55 in the region. This model targets a younger audience, and from a design perspective, it reconnects with the soul of our iconic FX, which essentially originated the luxury crossover coupe segment.
Due to the success of the 2021 QX80 Black Edition, we are examining the prospect of introducing more regional exclusives.
What are some of the technologies that Nissan Motor Company is currently working on which will in its opinion redefine the future of mobility?
Personalisation is a key topic when it comes to the future of mobility. Since its origin, the brand has placed the driver at the centre of everything that we do, and progressed our product offering, customisation options and specs by catering to the requirements of our customers. During the pandemic, Infiniti revolutionised the customer experience in the digital era during the second half of 2020 by launching the ‘showroom of the future’ and the Infiniti Configurator, a virtual experience that brings the dealership to car buyers wherever they are using realistic visualisation and customisation content. This was debuted in 11 markets in the Middle East, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
ProPilot is Nissan Motor Company’s advanced autonomous driving technology, the first phase of which, will be debuted in the 2022 Infiniti QX60.
Furthermore, electrification is definitely on the agenda for Nissan Motor Company, as evidenced by the organisation’s investment at its plant in Sunderland.
What are some of the biggest challenges that Infiniti is addressing when it comes to the future of mobility?
Customer preferences continue to evolve and our focus has always been to deliver on what our customers want – when it comes to vehicle connectivity, autonomous drive, electrification and even how we sell and service vehicles. As a global organisation, you can imagine customer preferences are evolving at a different pace from one market to another, especially when we take account for government regulation changes and how the industry is addressing clean vehicles and green house gasses. In some markets, we are seeing much faster evolution and this presents new challenges that we haven’t seen before in the industry.