Infiniti and beyond
Nissan’s luxury division, soon for Australia, gets game with Red Bull
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.