Nissan says it will begin manufacturing Infiniti-brand vehicles in China as early as next year, according to a report, and in doing so, it will become the first Japanese automaker to produce luxury cars there. A Hubei Province factory owned by Nissan joint venture Dongfeng Motor is being considered as a candidate site for the plant.

The company is looking to take Infiniti, which sold about 146,000 units globally in 2010, to a new level in the next five years – it hopes to shift more than 500,000 units by 2016. By then, China will likely become the number one market for Infiniti, surpassing the US.

The brand is also locating its new global headquarters in Hong Kong; the new corporate facility is slated to begin operations in April next year. With the brand’s growth strategy expected to be driven partly by demand in China and other fast-growing Asian markets, it says that everything will be served more effectively by consolidating its global downstream functions in Hong Kong.

About 100 staff, currently handling market research, sales strategies and A&P, and located in Japan, the US and Europe, will be integrated in Hong Kong when the office opens. Nissan says it is also looking at gradually shifting product planning there, to reflect local preferences in its products.

Along with this transfer, the report adds that Nissan will abandon its practice of making all of its luxury vehicles in Japan. Infiniti vehicles are currently manufactured at plants in Tochigi and Fukuoka prefectures, with a combined capacity at slightly more than 200,000 units. Nissan says it will maintain its domestic capacity, but is set to launch overseas production to keep up with a growing demand.