July 30, 2013
The Datsun Name Is Coming Back
Back in the 1970’s, the Datsun name was a well-known brand of fuel efficient and sporty cars. Its history began in 1914 with the name Dat-Car, and eventually became Datsun.
The first Datsuns went on sale in Japan in 1931. Datsun also went on the market in the US in 1958, but had a slow start. However, it gained popularity when the B-210 compact and the Z sports cars emerged.
In 1981, The Datsun brand was phased out and the parent company Nissan took over, even after selling 20 million vehicles in 190 different countries.
Now, more than 30 years later, Nissan has decided to bring back the Datsun in an effort to attract first-time car buyers. The chief executive of Renault-Nissan, Carlos Ghosn, explained, “The Datsun is back… Datsun will help many realize the dream of a car ownership.”
During the time of the switch from Datsun to Nissan, there was a period of several years where the vehicles manufactured were branded “Datsun by Nissan;” like the Pulsar, 280ZX and others. US sales are not expected for five to ten years. That is if sales in India, Indonesia, and Russia do well.
“If all goes to plan, once Nissan has succeeded in India, Russia and Indonesia, the company will target the emerging middle class car-buyers in the Middle East and South America,” Ghosn said.
Ghosn explained the reason he wants to bring the Datsun to Indonesia, “Datsun was introduced to Japan to bring reliable, affordable and contemporary technology to consumers who has too few choices. Today is the very situation in Indonesia. There is a growing segment of up and coming customers who have few choices. They can buy motorcycles, they can buy used vehicles or they can buy a new vehicle but one based on older technology. We will offer them an exciting new choice. Datsun is part of our company heritage and will now contribute to its future.”
The new Datsun is a five-seat hatchback with a 1.2-litre engine that will be for sale next year in India, Indonesia and Russia. The economical price for the new Datsun Go is 400,000 rupees, which converts into $6,670 in US currency. But, there will be a challenge for the new car, since passenger car sales dropped ten percent in the April — June quarter this year as opposed to last year.
Also, Nissan had less than two percent of new car sales with 1.89 million sold last year in India, whereas Suzuki-controlled Maruti took more than 40 percent. A ten percent market share is hoped for by 2016 with the Nissan, Infiniti, and now the Datsun brands. The Datsun will be assembled at the Chennai, Renault-Nissan plant in southeast India.
Nissan will spend around $395 million to upgrade and expand the plant in Indonesia. The car company intends to build 250,000 cars by 2014. Nissan says it wants to, “provide sustainable motoring experience to optimistic up-and-coming customers in high-growth markets.”