Infiniti is planning to take on the premium market with an onslaught of new models, a 60 percent expansion of its model range by the end of the decade. The announcement came as the premium Japanese marque opens its new automotive design facility in London today.
With a mission to make cars look and feel “romantic” again, Infiniti Design London, based in the iconic Battleship Building at Paddington Basin, is the first of a network of global design studios for the company as it gears up for a new-model offensive over the next five years, including an all-new model to be manufactured in the UK.
“Design is a key driver as we continue to sharpen the Infiniti brand,” said Francois Goupil de Bouillé, Infiniti vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa. “Our passion for design will deliver a broad range of very distinct premium vehicles. The expansion of our product portfolio is at the core of our growth plan.”
With Infiniti Design London fully open, the facility will be able to design and make full-size clay models. It is one of very few full-capability automotive design centers around the world to have a city centre location.
The studio occupies space within the Battleship Building, so-called because of the way its superstructure rears up above the surrounding area and the close-by Westway road. The building was completed in 1969 as a maintenance depot for British Rail and is listed as being of historical importance.
“With the expansion of the portfolio, Infiniti design will keep evolving,” said Shiro Nakamura, chief creative officer of Infiniti and senior vice president of Nissan Motor Corporation, the parent company of Infiniti. “Having dedicated studios is essential to deepen Infiniti design. This is the first step of a global initiative to purify and reinforce the distinctiveness of Infiniti design. The next steps are to open Infiniti design studios in Beijing and San Diego as well shortly.”
At the studio’s opening ceremony, Infiniti executive design director Alfonso Albaisa echoed Nakamura’s statement by saying: “Infiniti has always been about passion – for design, performance and craftsmanship. With our new generation models, we want to express all that passion plus a new romanticism, and London is a great place to find the inspiration for it. London buzzes with youthful excitement. We are here to pick up that buzz and tailor premium products so they deliver a European take on Infiniti.”
Car enthusiasts will be able to judge that for themselves in two weeks when Infiniti’s new concept car has its world premiere at the Paris Motor Show on October 2. Designed at the London facility, the concept – called Q80 Inspiration – previews a new top-of-the-range model for Infiniti.
Already more than 10 new Infiniti models have been designed in Infiniti’s design studios around the world in the past 18 months. Concept versions of the new “romantic” models will start to appear at upcoming international motor shows.
Infiniti Design London joins other Infiniti facilities in the UK including an engineering center at Cranfield and an assembly plant in Sunderland, which next year will begin the first Infiniti production in Europe.
The design studio employs many nationalities including Belgian, Croatian, German, Korean, Russian and Welsh, among its staff of designers, modelers and color and trim specialists.