Exclusive Interview with Chris Mallios
Innovation Hong Kong interviews Managing Director Infiniti Asia & Oceania
How do you view Hong Kong as an automotive design hub that can help further localize Nissan/Infiniti cars?
Our designers are always looking for inspiration through architecture, fashion and technology. Hong Kong is one of the world‘s greatest cities that can definitely inspire us.INFINITI’s ‘Powerful Elegance’ design language is both aesthetic and functional. We believe in a design approach that combines power with elegance –one which enables a commanding and sophisticated presence on the road.
INFINITI has Design Centers located around the world in San Diego, London, Beijing and Atsugi. Hong Kong has a mature automotive market and places a lot of focus on driving innovation and design. We have launched our INFINITI LAB and the INFINITI Accelerator Program in Hong Kong to support entrepreneurship and for entrepreneurs with a passion for innovation and those who share our vision to improve the future through technology.
How are cars globally becoming more digitally connected as a platform for their drivers?
At INFINITI, we focus on innovation and technology that improves both driving experience and pedestrian safety. We are a pioneer in the development of driver assistive technologies. We have already brought semi-autonomous and driver-assistive technologies to market, with the introduction of drive-by-wire Direct Adaptive Steering in 2013 and Active Lane Control technology in 2014.
INFINITI will introduce its ProPILOT Assist technologies in the future, which is a proactive approach to safety, designed to improve on-road safety by supporting the driver in identifying and responding to other road users and potential hazards.
For logistics and R&D, is Hong Kong doing enough to train its young automotive engineers? What is Infiniti doing?
Hong Kong’s educational institutions such as, The Hong Kong University, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University etc. provide programs and training to train young automotive engineers.
At INFINITI, we have a global program named as INFINITI Engineering Academy. The Academy will once again offer a total of 7 engineering students from across our participating regions (Asia & Oceania, Canada, China, Europe, Mexico, the Middle East and the United States) an unparalleled opportunity to join a 12-month placement working on both automotive and Formula One™ technologies, thanks to the technical partnership and strong collaboration between INFINITI Motor Company Ltd and the Renault Sport Formula OneTM Team. The seven winners will go to the UK for a career opportunity of a lifetime, complete with travel, accommodation, access to an INFINITI company car, a salary and the possibility to work alongside world-leading engineers at the cutting edge of the automotive and motorsport industries.
The 2017 edition of the Academy attracted over 12,000 registrations from 41 different countries, setting a new record with a near-threefold increase on last year. In 2017, there were 536 registrations coming from the Asia & Oceania region along.
What are some strong green or electric smart cars coming soon from Nissan/Infiniti?
Generally we do not comment on future products. We have a long track record of successful electric vehicle technology within the Alliance, which has sold more than 500,000 electric vehicles since 2010 – more than anyone. It is something we are considering. If and when the time is right, it would not be difficult for us to realize an
What makes Hong Kong a dynamic place for the future of the automotive industry in Asia?
Hong Kong is known as an international city where we can leverage experience from a range of diversity. With the proximity to our fastest growing market – China and being a hub to many other international markets, we believe INFINITI will be able to have leverage on the best resources to develop strategic approach which will further our growth. “Empower the Drive” is the center of everything we do, and I am sure this will be the corner stone of our strategic development, driving the future of our brand and products.
Hong Kong is also a technology center that focuses on IoT and innovation.Our INFINITI LAB and the INFINITI Accelerator Program in Hong Kong are designed to support entrepreneurship and for entrepreneurs with a passion for innovation and those who share INFINITI’s vision to improve the future through technology.
Shenzhen is picking up quickly for the car industry–how is this complimenting Hong Kong?
As our neighbor, there is a lot that can be accomplished through cooperation.
For global auto-parts manufacturing, the Greater Pearl Bay Area is looking to retool towards 2025 for hi-tech and smart cars.What are your thoughts on this?
We think there is tremendous potential.
Tell us a little about the Infiniti Lab in HK and what it is aiming to help in driving innovation in Hong Kong
One of the most distinctive characteristics of the INFINITI brand is its entrepreneurial spirit. As a premium automotive brand, we are constantly innovating to deliver the most personal and rewarding driving experience. Demonstrating INFINITI’s long-term commitment to nurture,entrepreneurship, the INFINITI LAB is launching its third Global Accelerator program based in Hong Kong. We created the INFINITI LAB and the INFINITI Accelerator Program in Hong Kong to support entrepreneurship and pledge our commitment to the local community.
The INFINITI LAB’s Accelerator Program is designed to foster start-up talent, help scale businesses rapidly and raise funding. Created in partnership with start-up incubator Nest®, the INFINITI LAB has been in operation for three years. The program is for entrepreneurs with a passion for innovation and those who share INFINITI’s vision to improve the future through technology.
At INFINITI LAB, entrepreneurs solve problems that matter, leveraging INFINITI’s global network and premium automotive expertise to shape the future. High potential startups from around the world are exposed to established investors, and benefit from intensive business coaching, mentoring (including eight weeks of business training and receive one-to-one mentorship from INFINITI business leaders and industry experts) and access to a network of ecosystem partners. At the culmination of these eight weeks is the Investor Demo Day, where the start-ups will pitch their businesses to over 100 investors for funding.