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Infiniti, Red Bull considering performance cars - Ghosn

By Tim Pollard

Motor Industry

25 July 2011 10:55

Infiniti and Red Bull could go into business together developing go-faster performance cars, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has confirmed to CAR.

The new August 2011 issue of CAR Magazine has a four-page interview with Ghosn (click here for a free digital preview) and we asked him if we will see a Red Bull-fettled Infiniti sports car.

'Why not?,' he replied. 'I don’t think we can bank on it today, but when Nissan people and Red Bull people come together and ask what can we do better, what can we do more of, if something like this makes sense, then why not?

'Today there is no project like this, there has been no decision. But you know, I am not opposed to anything, we need to look at every opportunity.'

Red Bull in Milton Keynes is very near to Nissan's Cranfield R&D base in the UK…

'Exactly!' said Ghosn. 'If we decided to do this, it would be very easy to execute.'

If the project gets a green light, Infiniti could select its most appropriate cars for the Red Bull treatment. The G range of compact executive saloons, coupes and convertibles could be turned into M3 rivals, or the new M saloon could be upgraded into an M5 rival.

The Renault-Nissan Alliance has form with F1 tie-ups; the Clio Williams is a fondly remembered go-faster hot hatch. Infiniti plans a small, compact car based loosely on the Etherea concept car and we expect to see that in 2014.

Why is Infiniti jumping into bed with Red Bull Racing?  

Over to you Carlos Ghosn. 'Infiniti has a very low level of awareness, that’s one of its big problems. When people hear about the cars, I’m told when people walk into our showroom here [in Piccadilly, London], practically 50% are transformed into customers. Which means our problem is awareness. People need to know what an Infinti is, what products it sells.

'What is the best way to make people aware of a brand? Well, Formula One is a great place. So we started to look at F1. As you know Renault has been in F1 for a very long time. As a result of the Alliance, where Renault sells the engines to Red Bull, there was an opportunity for Infiniti to get involved.

'When the first meeting took place between the Nissan people, the Infiniti people and the Red Bull people, there was a good chemistry, a lot of enthusiasm. I was told by my team that awareness in Europe for Infiniti was about 2%. We are expecting that after the first year of F1, it’s going to move to 4%. That is going to continue to increase.'