Infiniti Names Kruger New Global Boss

Will he maintain the luxury brand's new strategy?

by on Sep.10, 2014

Roland Kruger, shown during his BMW days.

Infiniti has a new global boss, a German executive with “an accomplished track record” in the luxury car market. Roland Kruger will replace the recently departed Johan de Nysschen, who took a job as the head of General Motors’ struggling Cadillac.

The transition at Infiniti headquarters in Hong Kong comes at a crucial time for the brand, the luxury arm of Nissan preparing to launch a wave of new products designed to boost it from an afterthought to a major player in the global luxury car market.

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A major question is whether Kruger will continue the strategies outlined by de Nysschen, who had been pushing for a new flagship model, as well as a line of performance products that were expected to be dubbed Eau Rouge.

Kruger is no stranger to such a strategy, having climbed up the ranks at BMW, most recently serving as the senior vice president in charge of the German sales region. Like its national rivals Mercedes-Benz and Audi, BMW has been flooding the market with an unprecedented array of new models seemingly aimed at filling every possible bit of white space in the luxury segment.

“Roland Krüger has a consistent record of high performance in the premium automotive sector,” said Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn. “He brings unique leadership skills that will accelerate Infiniti’s progress in the global premium market.”

Like de Nysschen before him, Kruger will report directly to Ghosn from Infiniti’s world headquarters in Hong Kong. The luxury brand moved there several years ago as part of a strategy aimed at putting a little distance between it and the parent brand. Nissan also provided Infiniti with more design and engineering resources intended to let it pursue its own product strategy.

The maker had begun to show off what it had in mind with such concept and production vehicles as the upcoming Q30 crossover, while dropping broad hints about the Q80 flagship it intends to unveil at the Paris Motor Show next month. It also will be bringing out a production version of the Eau Rouge concept, though it has not been clear whether that name will continue to be used for the sub-brand – which is intended to rival the likes of the Mercedes AMG and BMW M lines.

(Infiniti inspired – with Q80 Inspiration Concept. Click Here for a closer look.)

One area that could receive a review under Kruger would be Infiniti’s approach to electrification. With Ghosn one of the industry’s biggest proponents of electric vehicles, the luxury marque had been planning to bring out a battery car of its own, but de Nysschen put that on hold, shifting to a more traditional European luxury approach.

(Click Herefor a first look at the new BMW 2-Series Convertible.)

For his part, Kruger will turn 49 on September 30th. Born in Germany, he earned degrees from the University of Applied Science, in Munich, and INSEAD, in Fontainebleau, in France. He joined Mitsubishi  in 1992, working as a designer. Two years later, he shifted to Daimler to work on the Smart car project. He joined BMW in 1998 as a manager of Strategic Product Planning. Kruger has overseen a number of overseas region and was CEO of BMW Group, Japan from 2008 to 2013, when he was brought home to head the German region.

(Infiniti’s new Q70L one in a wave of new long-wheelbase luxury models. Click Here for a closer look.)

As for de Nysschen, he is now in charge of Cadillac out of Detroit, though that base of operations is expected to shift, the GM division giving serious thought to moving key sales and marketing units to New York City in the coming months.

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