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Old 06-07-2004, 06:43 AM
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Nissan News

A couple blurbs from www.thecarconnection.com

Nissan shifts more than gears

Once the industry basket case, Nissan is now reporting record profits and industry-leading margins of 11.1 percent. But the automaker is looking to keep the momentum going well into the future, company officials declared during the first wave of a month-long global media background briefing. The program is giving auto writers from around the world an opportunity to not only meet with senior Nissan officials but also to drive the entire range of the automaker’s products. Company insiders acknowledge that they’re hoping to gauge media reaction and use it to help decide whether products from one market might be transplanted to another. For the U.S., that includes several Asian and European products, such as the Japanese market’s Cube, a boxy microvan loosely resembling the popular new Scion xB. Nissan officials are hoping that strong U.S. sales of BMW’s Mini brand heralds a new interest in small vehicles. If so, that could create opportunities for Nissan products such as the Mi!
cra and March. But the automaker is also considering Stateside options for the El Grand, an upscale minivan that could challenge Chrysler’s top-line Town & Country model. The fragmentation of markets around the world is giving Nissan “a lot of opportunities to expand,” said Alfonso Albaisa, associate direction of design for Nissan’s U.S. operations. New product is critical if the automaker hopes to meet its aggressive sales targets. Nissan sold three million cars, trucks and crossovers last year and expects to hit 3.3 million in 2004. By 2007, it is aiming to break through the four-million-unit barrier. —Paul A. Eisenstein

Infiniti going global
For years, Nissan’s upscale Infiniti brand was little more than an asterisk on the luxury sales chart. But last year volumes blew the 100,000 mark, and “our intention is to (now) be recognized as a Tier 1 luxury brand all over the world,” asserted Steve Wilhite, Nissan Motor Co.’s new global marketing czar. That means a global rollout of the brand, which had until now been limited to the U.S. market. The expansion will begin with a launch of the Infiniti nameplate in South Korea later this year, company officials revealed. Then, borrowing a page from its Asian rival, Lexus, Nissan’s luxury brand will appear in the Japanese home market. The Russian market will follow, and sometime between 2007 and 2008, Infiniti will make its debut in Western Europe, according to NMC Vice President Simon Sproule. —Paul A. Eisenstein
Infiniti on the Upswing, Finally by Paul A. Eisenstein (12/29/2003)
Asian automaker finally finding a niche after a decade of wandering.
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