Auto Shanghai 2013: Interview with Alfonso Albaisa, New Infiniti Executive Design Director
In the above video interview, conducted at this year’s Auto Shanghai, Infiniti’s new executive design director Alfonso Albaisa shares his vision for the car brand’s future vehicle architecture vis-à-vis Chinese consumers.
It comes as no surprise that Infiniti has set its sight on targeting, what Albaisa calls, the “Young-Minded Premium Customer” (or “YMPC”) – a key demographic in what is currently the world’s largest car market.
Infiniti’s President, Johan de Nysschen, has also announced at the car show a long wheelbase version of the Q50 sports sedan and all-new QX50 crossover specifically for the Chinese market.
Both vehicles will be built at the Xiangyang plant in Hubei Province, China. The plant is operated by Dongfeng Motor Co., Infiniti’s partner in China. Production is slated to begin in 2014.
“China is a key market in Infiniti’s growth strategy,” said de Nysschen. “The decision to offer two vehicles specifically designed for the Chinese market and produce them locally, is further evidence of our globalization strategy.
“Last year, we established our global company headquarters in Hong Kong in order to be even better positioned to serve China, the world’s largest luxury market. We are expanding our product portfolio with two new models especially for the Chinese market in 2014 and plans are underway to significantly increase the dealer network from currently 60 to 80 dealers in 2014.”
China is Infiniti’s second biggest market and is crucial to the company’s quest to expand its presence in the premium automotive sector.
de Nysschen has further appointed Yoichiro Kato (53) as the company’s new head of Product Development. Based at Infiniti’s global technical center in Atsugi, Japan, Kato will be responsible for the development of Infiniti’s entire premium product portfolio.
Yoichiro Kato appointed New General Manager of Infiniti Product Development
“We are going to start a major product offensive in order to grow further within the premium segment and we are transforming the company to support our growth,” said de Nysschen.
Kato joined Nissan in 1984 as an engineer in the suspension division. During this time, he developed the world’s first multi-link suspension system which was featured on the Infiniti Q45 and numerous other products at the time. Kato also developed a unique multi-link beam rear suspension. From 1996 to 2000, he gained experience from an international assignment to the company’s European technical centre in Cranfield, UK. Upon his return to Japan, Kato held a number of engineering positions with increasing responsibility in the Chassis Engineering area. In 2010, he was appointed to lead this area as its General Manager.