Alfonso Albaisa_hires

In a bid to further distance itself from its parent company’s Nissan marque, Infiniti has appointed veteran Nissan designer Alfonso Albaisa as its executive design director, reports Automotive News.

The global design role is new – it’s been created to help elevate Infiniti’s stature among luxury brands such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and Audi. Albaisa, 48, has been heading Nissan’s global passenger car design strategy for the past year.

Although the Cuban-American designer will continue to work under the global design management of Nissan Motor’s Shiro Nakamura, he now leads a team of stylists in Atsugi, Japan to shape future Infiniti vehicles.

“Alfonso is a great fit for Infiniti,” Nakamura said in a statement. “He is a brand visionary who has the passion and drive to translate his progressive thinking into exciting designs with global appeal.”

Among the Infiniti vehicles Albaisa has already influenced are the EMERG-E plug-in hybrid concept and a premium concept that has yet to show in public. He was also responsible for the Nissan Ellure hybrid sedan concept during his time as VP of Nissan’s California studio.

Infiniti registered itself as a separate corporation called Infiniti Motor Co Ltd late last year. It announced Sebastian Vettel as its Director of Performance in April this year.