► Infiniti pulls out of western Europe
► UK sales to end in spring 2020
► What it means for owners, warranties
Nissan is axing the Infiniti brand in western Europe, ending a decade of uphill struggles to establish it as a premium rival to BMW and Audi. The UK's six dealers will shutter in spring 2020, bringing a close to a sorry chapter in the brand's history.
Just 750 new Infinitis were registered in the UK in the whole of 2018; if you exclude dealer demonstrators and other pre-registrations, you quickly understand the scale of the problem faced by the brand. 'It just wasn't sustainable,' a spokesman admitted.
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Infiniti in Europe: a short, unsuccessful decade
Launched in western Europe in 2009, Infiniti never really caught on here. It remains a mid-sized player globally, selling around 150,000 cars last year in the US and 46,000 in China.
The Infiniti Motor Company mothership today committed to selling cars in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and China, as well as the US, its biggest market.
In a statement issued this lunchtime, the company said: 'Infiniti and Nissan Motor Corporation are confident in this restructuring plan for the long-term vision and success of the brand, for its employees, customers and shareholders.... The company will place more focus on its SUV line-up in North America, bring five new vehicles to China over the next five years, work to improve quality of sales and residual value, and realise more synergies with Nissan Motor Company.'
It's clear it's having to focus its investment on bigger challenges, such as electrification - rather than pushing a round peg into a square hole. Pulling the plug on European sales is part of a wider restructure, the first since the departure of Carlos Ghosn, who oversaw Infiniti's expansion into Europe a decade ago.
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Infiniti's withdrawal from the UK: what it means
The ramifications of Infiniti's withdrawal will be felt across the industry:
- Nissan's Sunderland factory will stop building Q30 and QX30
- Shifts likely to be lost at UK factory as a result from July 2019
- Six dealers will stay open until spring 2020
- Warranties 'will be honoured,' company pledges
- Around 10,000 Infiniti owners believed to be in the UK
- More details on aftercare to be issued on customer website
This is a breaking news story and we'll be sure to update this article as we learn more about the implications for owners of the 10,000 or so Infiniti cars sold in Britain in the past decade.
Infiniti owners: warranties, servicing and aftercare
The company has pledged to 'fulfil all its obligations towards customers.' Don't forget Infiniti is owned by Nissan, one of the world's biggest car making groups. So you can be sure that your local Infiniti dealers - in Birmingham, Reading, Stockport, Leeds, Belfast and Glasgow - will remain open until March 2020.
After that, the picture is murkier. 'Beyond March 2020, we are currently assessing the most effective and convenient way of providing full aftersales services for Infiniti owners including service, maintenance and warranty repairs,' the company says. 'We will confirm these arrangements in the months to come.'
It seems likely that owners will see a fall in residual values over the months ahead; uncertainty over servicing and parts supply will probably hit values - but there is a chance that an Infiniti could become a leftfield choice against the mainstream, in the same way that Saab retained a lingering cool image long after the brand died. That said, it's probably best not to mention the Swedish and Japanese brands in the same breath around these parts...
Are you an Infiniti owner? Have you been affected by the UK departure? Be sure to sound off in the comments below.
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