Mike Stevens | Apr 8, 2010

IN NEWS that should surprise no-one, Nissan's luxury arm Infiniti is looking to launch a small car to compete with the BMW 1 Series, Audi A3 and the recently-revealed Lexus CT 200h.

Speaking with British magazine Autocar today, Nissan Senior Vice President Andy Palmer said that yesterday's announcement of a partnership between Renault-Nissan and Daimler gave Infiniti access to know-how and technology it couldn't previously afford.

"A small car for the European market is a strong probability, not a possibility. We have looked at what Lexus is doing with the CT200h, and it's clear that the market for small premium vehicles is growing," Palmer said.

"We don't necessarily want to follow the Lexus hybrid model, but we do want a rival for the 1-Series and Audi A3."

The Renault-Nissan strategic partnership with Daimler is expected to save the Japanese carmaker in the vicinity of one billion euros (AU$1.4b) over the next five years.

Speaking with TMR last month, Nissan Australia Managing Director and CEO, Dan Thompson, said that the Infiniti brand is close to making a return to the Australian market.

Once approval is given, the process of establishing a dealer network and a head office will take between 12 and 24 months, meaning the first cars won’t go on sale until late 2011 at the very earliest.

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