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Nissan planning to import Infiniti brand vehicles to China

Nissan Motor Co. will begin importing its Infiniti luxury sedans into China by the end of 2007, the Japanese automaker said.

"We aim to have 10 percent of the premium (import) market by 2011," said Sharon Shen, spokesperson for Nissan (China) Investment Co.

The company is still working out which models will be imported, she added.
Nissan hopes to have 10 dealerships in place for the launch, Shen said.

The market for such high-end imported cars is around 35,000 units a year, said Yale Zhang, head of emerging markets forecasting for CSM Asia in Shanghai.

Infiniti is a relative late comer to China's premium import market. Mercedes, BMW, and Toyota's Lexus brand are already here.

Said Shen: "We don't really feel that this is late. The customer tastes are still developing. In 2007, customers will develop their own tastes instead of just following trends."

Nissan will have a unique marketing and sales strategy for the Infiniti brand, she said.

Marketing will be key because Chinese aren't familiar with the Infiniti brand, though Nissan-badged cars are assembled and sold in China, said Zhang.

Said Mei Songlin, deputy general manager of J.D. Power and Associates China operations: "Generally, Chinese people believe in European luxury brands. The only exception is Lexus. Before Toyota launched Lexus here, the brand's Chinese name was well known."


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