Infiniti gets new design chief

X Scalper

TOKYO — The Japanese stylist responsible for Infiniti’s eye-catching QX Inspiration and Prototype 10 concept vehicles, Taisuke Nakamura, will be the premium brand’s new global design chief, following the departure of current head Karim Habib in the latest executive shuffle at Nissan’s premium marque.

Nakamura, 49, will take up the post Sept. 1, Infiniti said on Monday.

Nakamura currently reports to Alfonso Albaisa, Nissan’s global design boss, as program design director responsible for global design strategy as well as concept car and production vehicle design.

Habib, a Lebanese-born Canadian who joined Infiniti in July 2017 from BMW, is leaving the company “to pursue other opportunities,” Infiniti said.

Nissan is overhauling Infiniti’s business strategy to focus on the U.S. and China markets. Sales in the U.S., the brand’s top market, were down 13 percent to 71,718 vehicles through July.

Habib’s departure is the latest personnel upheaval at Infiniti, whose restructuring includes its withdrawal from the European market and the return of its brand headquarters to Japan from Hong Kong. It also comes at the brand readies the launch of a new design language centered around an upcoming wave of electrified vehicles.

In May, Infiniti President Christian Meunier left the job to become the global president of the Jeep brand at Fiat Chrysler Automobiles. Meunier had been in that post for four months, following the departure of Roland Krueger, his predecessor. Krueger, who left to take the top job at Dyson’s automotive unit, had led the brand since 2015.

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