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Infiniti’s new London studio ignites brand’s Aston Martin aspirations

Infiniti's new London studio ignites brand's Aston Martin aspirations

Infiniti executives think that its brand new London design studio will help it create models that appeal to customers purchasing some of Britain’s most exclusive vehicles.

“This premium market [London] is very close to the people that are buying Range Rovers, Aston Martins and Jaguars, the people that we probably want to attract more than the Mercedes or the BMW customer,” said Infiniti Executive Design Director Alfonso Albaisa.

“When you’re among [these customers] you watch how they live, you understand their priorities,” he said at an event this month to mark the opening of Infiniti Design London.

Located in the iconic Battleship Building at Paddington Basin, Infiniti’s new 900-square meter studio is the first of three new design centers dedicated to the Nissan-owned premium brand. The other two, which will open next year, will be in Beijing, China, and San Diego, California. All three studios are near Nissan’s global design bases.

Albaisa hopes Infiniti’s designers will be inspired by and gain insight into the trends and cultural diversity found in the three bustling, trend-setting cities. The aim is “not to follow every trend,” Albaisa said, “just to follow and see tendencies of the segment.”

The London studio opening comes as Nissan is increasing its efforts to turn Infiniti into a truly global player. “We want to be a member of the premium manufacturer’s club,” Francois Goupil de Bouille, Infiniti vice president for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said at the event. “Design is the key element. We want to be innovative, disruptive, and challenge the status quo.”

Infiniti is also poised to increase its premium model range by 60 percent by the end of the decade. “The expansion of our product portfolio is at the core of our growth plan,” de Bouille said.

Infiniti said in a press release that more than 10 new models have been designed in the past 18 months and concept versions of the models will start to appear at upcoming international auto shows. The Q80 Inspiration, for example, previews a new top-of-the-range model that was designed at the London facility. The concept will make its public debut at the Paris auto show next week.

Infiniti aims to triple global sales to half a million vehicles by 2016. Currently, worldwide sales of Infiniti models are just a tenth of Audi’s global sales.