Infiniti and its parent Nissan
are having a hard time making money these days. The Japanese yen is up in value, while the U.S. dollar remains weak; to put it in more tangible terms, the cost to build cars in Japan
and sell them in the U.S. has risen, and pricing hasn’t kept pace.
That gives Infiniti
two options: either raise pricing to levels unacceptable to consumers or move production out of Japan. Automotive News
(subscription required) quotes Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn as saying that both North America and China are under consideration for new Infiniti manufacturing bases.
There’s already something of a business case to move production to the United States. The new Infiniti JX35 crossover
is built here, at Nissan’s plant in Tennessee, and word is that Infiniti’s LE Concept electric sedan will be built there, too.
Still, Infiniti sales are down in the U.S. this year, while China posted 61-percent sales growth for Infiniti last year. That was incentive enough for Infiniti to move its global headquarters from Japan to Hong Kong, in order to be closer to the Chinese market. In other words, an Infiniti manufacturing base in China isn’t out of the question.
Mexico is another possibility for North American production, as it offers cheap labor (compared to the U.S., anyway) and Nissan has already announced a new manufacturing plant in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Since it hasn’t specified which products will be built there, Infiniti models are as likely as anything wearing a Nissan badge.
Ghosn favors the German manufacturer model of production diversification
, so don’t be surprised to see Infiniti models built in multiple locations around the globe. A Chinese plant would be a logical choice for the far east market, while a Mexican (or U.S.) plant would make sense for North American customers.
This much is clear: it’s too expensive to produce Infiniti vehicles in Japan anymore.