In­finiti and be­yond

Nis­san’s lux­ury divi­sion, soon for Aus­tralia, gets game with Red Bull

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige - PAUL GOVER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

A LUX­URY In­finiti that taps tech­nol­ogy from the Red Bull grand prix team is be­ing tipped as part of the Ja­panese brand’s fu­ture prod­uct plan.

In­finiti re­turns to Aus­tralia late next year with a bold prod­uct of­fen­sive, in­clud­ing sports-fo­cused SUVs, af­ter an un­suc­cess­ful first ef­fort in 1990 with a sin­gle lux­ury flag­ship called the Q45.

Now the the com­pany is look­ing to Red Bull as an ex­ten­sion of a spon­sor­ship deal that was ig­nited at the Aus­tralian Grand Prix in Mel­bourne in March.

Our re­la­tion­ship with Red Bull is only five races old, but the tra­jec­tory for it is to move on and work more closely to­gether. One way of do­ing that is on a road car pro­ject,’’ says Nis­san’s global head of mar­ket­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions Si­mon Sproule. Both sides like the part­ner­ship direc­tion and we are now con­sid­er­ing how to evolve.’’

There are no firm plans but he says talks are un­der way. He cites suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tive pro­grams in the past in­clud­ing Wil­liams Grand Prix’s tie-up with high-per­for­mance Re­nault road cars. Nis­san and Red Bull had an open attitude to­wards new op­por­tu­ni­ties’’.

In­finiti, the up­mar­ket divi­sion of Nis­san, is part of the Nis­san-Re­nault al­liance, which pro­vides an in­di­rect link to Red Bull through Re­nault’s sup­ply of F1 en­gines. How­ever, Sproule says the In­finiti-Red Bull tie-up is noth­ing to do with Re­nault, or the F1 team’s en­gines but is aimed at build­ing a part­ner­ship for the car maker.

Red Bull has shown its po­ten­tial be­yond grand prix rac­ing by cre­at­ing a vir­tual F1 car for the Gran Turismo com­puter game. Its X1 is billed as the ultimate F1 racer, with abil­i­ties far be­yond cur­rent rac­ers, and a re­flec­tion of the com­puter sim­u­la­tion sys­tems and ad­vanced re­search ca­pa­bil­i­ties at Red Bull Rac­ing.

Sproule is quick to down­play any­thing con­crete but is leav­ing the door open. This is very early days in the In­fini­tiRed Bull Rac­ing F1 re­la­tion­ship and there is noth­ing to an­nounce at this point,’’ he says. The spec­u­la­tive ques­tion on road cars was raised and so the nat­u­ral an­swer was sim­ply, maybe’. We have started tech­ni­cal pro­ject dis­cus­sions and this is a good first move (to­wards) a deeper part­ner­ship.’’

Wheels within wheels: Red Bull driv­ers Mark Web­ber and Se­bas­tian Vet­tel; the Red Bull X1 vir­tual racer; (be­low left)

In­finiti was here in the early ’90s.

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