Two news items pertaining to Infiniti production broke earlier this morning – but, as Nissan continues to push to make its luxury brand a global entity, it’s not all that surprising to learn the two affect plants on two different continents. The automaker broke ground in Tennessee that will ultimately produce engines for both Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz, and confirmed Infiniti’s new small model will be built in Austria.
Nissan’s Decherd, Tennessee engine plant currently makes four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines for Nissan and Infiniti’s current product portfolio, but officials recently broke ground on an expansion that will increase the complex’s capacity by some 250,000 engines. The new wing will be tasked with building four-cylinder engines designed by Daimler. This comes after a Nissan/Daimler contract that will allow the two companies to share engine design and production duties, and the announcement that the C-Class will start production at Daimler’s Tuscaloosa, Alabama plant.
Nissan Senior Vice President for Research and Development Carla Bailo said in a prepared statement, that while the C-Class will use many of the engines produced at the Decherd plant, many of the inline-fours will also go into a new Infiniti model line.
As we’ve previously reported, that model line is likely a new premium small car that will be based on Mercedes-Benz’s new MFA platform, and styled to look like the Etherea concept from the 2011 Geneva Motor Show. Bailo said that Infiniti customers have been looking for a four-cylinder-powered model, and a premium small car would give Infiniti the tools to further infiltrate the European market. Reuters reports that the company to build this car will be Magna Steyr, the European relative of Canadian supplier Magna International, and the Etherea-based small car will likely start production at Magna’s Graz, Austria plant in 2014.
All of this may seem like strange bedfellows, but Infiniti (and Nissan) have big goals to meet. Nissan is looking to sell 500,000 Infinitis a year internationally, a more than three-fold increase from last year’s international sales figure.
Sources: Nissan, Reuters