Nissan Hopes Former Porsche Exec Brings Spark Back To Infiniti

Franklin-based Nissan North America has picked a Porsche executive to lead its own luxury make.  His hire is the latest change for Infiniti, which is trying to gain a bigger share of the auto market.

Nissan has named Michael Bartsch vice president of Infiniti Americas, effective September 1. He succeeds Ben Poore who will leave the company to pursue other interests. Image: Nissan North America

Nissan has named Michael Bartsch vice president of Infiniti Americas, effective September 1. He succeeds Ben Poore who will leave the company to pursue other interests. Image: Nissan North America

Michael Bartsch will take over Infiniti’s Americas division next month. He’s has been chief operation officer of Porsche’s North American business for the past eight years. In a statement, Infiniti president Johan de Nysschen says Bartsch has a proven track record in the auto industry and can lead the brand through a major transformation.

Infiniti still lags in US luxury car sales, behind Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus. It’s looking to change that, and recently hired a new design chief and a new head of marketing. Infiniti’s sales numbers have been all over the place.  In 2012, it posted a 22 percent increase. But in the first six months of this year, sales were down nine percent.

Bartsch will work out Nissan’s North American headquarters in Franklin. The majority of Infiniti models are built in Japan, but its QX60 SUV is made at Nissan’s Smyrna assembly plant.

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