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Infiniti needs halo model, says Europe boss

The Infiniti LE concept car.

The sport and luxury division of Nissan has so far faced a tough battle winning over buyers from long-established brands including Lexus, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. But new boss Fintan Knight thinks a halo model and technology may be future keys to success.

Knight began his career in the automotive industry with BMW in Australia 20 years ago before holding senior marketing and management positions with Lamborghini and Audi in Europe.

Appointed to the top job at Infiniti just a matter of weeks ago, he’s told AOL Cars that he believes the brand is lacking a break-out model. "I think we need something aspirational at the top of the range," he says.

And Knight sees an opportunity to win over buyers with technology, saying he believes the German manufacturers aren’t giving the ‘iPhone generation’ what they want. Germans get in their cars and treat them as transport. They need to be functional in their eyes.

They don't use email, Twitter or iPhones. That's why they never really work for buyers who want that. Our cars have to interface with drivers. They should take over for you in certain areas."

Knight also believes the brand needs to expand its current six model line-up to include a small car to compete with the Audi A3 and the Volkswagen Golf. "I don't think we'll challenge them in terms of volumes but it needs to be an alternative premium offering for buyers."

And when quizzed on his opinion of arch-rivals Lexus – "I am not convinced that they have the right plan.” He said.

Joel Helmes is the editor of the Behind the Wheel radio program, heard on more than 150 stations around Australia, and www.behindthewheel.com.au.