Infiniti's US Leadership Changes Hands Once Again

Feb 18, 2015 05:30 PM EST | Jordan Ecarma

Nissan has abruptly announced a changing of the guard at its Infiniti luxury brand, which will be headed by Randy Parker, most recently vice president for Nissan's West region.

Parker, 48, replaces Michael Bartsch, who served as Infiniti's leader for just about a year and a half.

De Nysschen recruited Bartsch from Porsche in 2013; Barsch had been chief operating officer for Porsche's market in the United States.

Parker, who rose rapidly through the ranks to become the West region's vice president just a year and a half after joining Nissan, comes at a crucial time for the company since the struggling Infiniti brand has been losing market share in the past two years. In 2014, Infiniti lost global leader Johan de Nysschen to Cadillac.

Infiniti sold 117,330 units in 2014, reflecting a mere 1 percent increase year over year that compares with a 6 percent rise in sales for the rest of the luxury market. The brand's lineup is expecting a Q30 hatchback in the last quarter and a refreshed Q60 coupe sometime in 2016, according to Automotive News

Jose Munoz, chairman of Nissan North America, announced the executive change and noted how Parker has "overseen strong growth for the Nissan brand in our western region."

The automaker's West region sales have risen 15 percent so far for the fiscal year that ends on March 31, which compares with a national sales increase between 11 and 12 percent, Automotive News reported.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn has set an ambitious target for the company, aiming to have a 10 percent U.S. market share for Nissan and Infiniti combined by March 2017. Nissan and Infiniti together held an 8.4 percent market share at the end of December.

Infiniti has been working to become its own distinct name in the past two years. Nissan separated Infiniti from its namesake brand, and the luxury lineup moved headquarters from Japan to Hong Kong.

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