Honda website
Honda website

MAY 31, 2005

Infiniti and beyond

Carlos Ghosn has been settling into his new job at Renault in recent weeks without making much of a fuss and is now preparing to unveil his plans to expand the Renault-Nissan empire for the years ahead. Ghosn told automobile analysts last winter that he does not really think motorsport is of that big a value to automobile manufacturers.

"You see some people you know dumping $300m, $400m or $500m in Formula 1," he said. "It's a joke. The relationship between racing and boosting sales and boosting specific technology, frankly we don't find it. We tried the Paris to Dakar race last year and we were not successful. We don't go racing for our executives to go have a great time and play golf. If you are going racing, you have to have the chance of winning to bolster brand value. It cannot become something you do because you've always done it. I'm not sorry we don't participate. I'm sorry where we participate and don't get very much."

Ghosn says that his chief goal will be a greater internationalization of Renault and the latest speculation suggests that one of his major targets for expansion will be the Infiniti and Nissan brands in the United States, where the quirky Nissan Quest minivan is selling well. However, Nissan also intends to sharpen the brand definition of Infiniti in the global luxury car market, in much the same way as Toyota is currently moving with Lexus. Nissan says it will sell Infiniti products in South Korea, China, Russia and Japan in the next few years, taking on the likes of Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Cadillac.

Asia is a big market for F1 and given that Renault has invested and is being quite successful in F1, it makes a lot of sense to use the technology available to spread the word about Nissan - even if Ghosn is not a racing fan.