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Infiniti Planning to Launch Entry-Level Car to Fight Audi A3

Automotive News is reporting that Nissan plans to introduce a new compact Infiniti model to take on such cars as the Audi A3 and Lexus CT 200h. The introduction of this new model is part of Nissan’s plan to increase Infiniti’s lineup to 10 vehicles by 2017, and will follow the launch of the brand’s JX crossover and Nissan Leaf-based EV.

A person familiar with Infiniti’s plans told AN that the new compact model would be based on the Etherea concept that bowed at the Geneva International Motor Show in March. Nissan plans to target the entry-level luxury segment with this new model because that market is large and is expected to bring higher sales for Infiniti, according to Automotive News’ source.

The Infiniti G is currently the least expensive model that the brand sells, and accounted for about 60 percent of all Infiniti sales in June. Still, sales lag behind competitors like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. If a model below the G were offered, it could mean stronger sales for the brand going forward. As the company laid out in its new midterm business plan on June 27, Nissan hopes to claim eight percent of the world auto market within the next six years. Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn also set the goal of taking 10 percent of the global luxury market in the same time frame with Infiniti.

Along with increasing its market share, Nissan intends to increase global sales volume of Infiniti models to 500,000 units a year by 2017, up significantly from today’s numbers, which stand at about 150,000 units a year. The new plan also calls for Nissan to move production of Infiniti models, which have been produced exclusively in Japan since the introduction of the QX56, overseas; we  already know that the JX will be built at Nissan’s plant in Smyrna, TN. Since the Infiniti EV shares underpinnings with the Nissan Leaf, Ghosn said that manufacture of the car at Nissan’s plant in Tochigi, Japan, the site of current Leaf production, is “very likely.” However, since the Leaf is also expected to be built in Smyrna by 2013, production of the Infiniti-branded EV in the U.S. is also a strong possibility.

When asked about future Infiniti production sites, Ghosn said, “I cannot imagine that 500,000 Infiniti cars are going to be shipped from one location. The natural location is North America and/or China.”

Wherever it’s built, Infiniti’s Audi A3 fighter should arrive within a few years, following the introduction of the JX in 2012 and possibly alongside the Infiniti EV expected by 2014.

Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)

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Buying Guide

2011 Infiniti G25

Fair Market Price $15,813 Base Sedan

0-60 MPH:

7.6 SECS

EPA MPG:

20 City / 29 Hwy

Horse Power:

218 @ 6400

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