Infiniti showcased a total of 13 cars at Auto Shanghai 2013, emphasizing the importance of the Chinese market for the premium brand.
On the sidelines of the show, Infiniti’s new executive design director, Alfonso Albaisa, shared his plans for Nissan’s luxury brand, underlining the need to integrate Chinese consumers’ preferences into Infiniti design.
What are your immediate priorities in your new role as Infiniti’s executive design director?
Alfonso Albaisa: “Basically, I feel a brand needs a very strong management committee and we have – starting April 1 – a fairly new management committee.
“My first priority is integration, so that we all understand each other’s priorities and each function. But also then from design: how I can express how our designers see the future of Infiniti, how we understand the young premium customer (YPC) or the young-minded premium customer (YMPC).
“I want to create a bridge to the management committee and to be the voice of all our super-talented designers, so that’s number one.”
China is fast becoming a key luxury market. Infiniti has already adapted its design for the Chinese consumer with the long wheelbase edition of the Infiniti M. What further adaptions can we expect?
“I think it will be case-by-case because we are at a turning point, in a sense. We are about to start a whole bunch of very new products.
“We are very interested in young premium Chinese customers, so we are learning about the details and their inclinations. I’m very proud to say that we are going to have those be part of Infiniti. Infiniti is a global brand, though. Our cars are global but must be international. It must capture the nuances of our customers.
“We are focusing on who the customers are, and seeing – case-by-case – how we can integrate their needs into future cars.”
You’re part of the design team behind the Infiniti Emerg-e. Will we see such design influence in future models?
“In Infiniti Emerg-e, because it is a range-extended electric vehicle concept, we wanted to see how we can take these seductive, flowing sculptural bodies and bring a lightweight edge to them.
“Because for zero-emission, we feel there should be this weightlessness, a flowing character. So, you will see in the cars where we feel we need this zero-emission, or this lightweight feeling, aerodynamics expressed in that manner.
“But the Essence is still very relevant, and the Q50 is probably more linked to Essence. It has a little bit more solidity like Essence, and then maybe some cars will take an Emerg-e direction, so we are still mapping it out.”