As Infiniti Chairman, Nissan Chief Planning Officer Andy Palmer is working to reposition the brand as a design- and technology-driven alternative to Germany's premium automakers. Palmer discussed Infiniti's future with Automotive News Europe Editor Luca Ciferri on the sidelines of the British Formula One Grand Prix. The interview took place before Palmer's departure from Nissan to take over as Aston Martin CEO.
What does Infiniti offer that its premium car rivals don't?
Something that is different, personalized and provocative. If you look at the Millennial Generation, what we call Gen Y [people born between the 1980s and the early 2000s], they don't want to drive a car that their father drove.
What does Gen Y want from a car?
They do not buy a standard car off the shelf anymore, even in the volume segment. That's what's driving Nissan Juke, Citroen DS or Fiat 500 sales. Everybody wants a personalized car. Now, in the premium space, they have a choice of essentially three manufacturers [Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz]. You can argue maybe to include Lexus or Volvo, but the main players are the three German automakers.
And they keep breaking their own sales records. What can Infiniti do to successfully challenge them?
They produce very, very good cars, but they’re all much the same. I mean, they’re all drawn with a ruler, straight lines, very rational. What Infiniti can do is provide the technology, the ride and handling, the NVH [noise, vibration and harshness] that is equal to those guys – this is one of the benefits of our relationship with Daimler. But Infiniti will put all this in a package that is first of all, by its nature, smaller volume therefore it’s more unique.