Nissan Makes Datsun Revival Official for Developing Markets

By Jacob Brown | March 20, 2012
One thing you learn quickly about Nissan-Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn is that when he invests in something, he fully expects the result to be a return of profits many times over. That said, Ghosn has officially green-lighted a revival of the Datsun nameplate, and he's planning to use it to leverage Nissan into markets where it has not always been successful. And he's not fooling around with it. As part of the plan, Nissan will bring the 80-year-old Datsun name back for a lineup of small cars for Indonesia, Russia, and India. First up, Nissan will dump $400 million into the Indonesian market over the next two years, double its staff and up its dealership count to 150. Original plans called for Nissan to have 70 dealerships by the end of 2011 in Indonesia, meaning the automaker has some work to do to reach its expanded goals. When asked what the new Datsun brand will be, Ghosn said "It's a green car, affordable car, small displacement, high local content." He added: "It's going to be a generous car." The Datsun brand is expected to make a lineup of small, economical cars and trucks based around the so-called "V platform" that underpins the Nissan Versa sedan in the U.S. Reports suggest the cars could cost as little as $6,000 in one of the most quickly emerging economic powers of Asia. At the same time, Renault is looking to increase its stake in Russian AvtoVAZ, makers of Lada automobiles, to produce Datsun cars more tailored to the Russian market—meaning that they'll likely be durable, rugged, a little more industrial in look and feel, and run on vodka. OK, we might be kidding about the last one. As it stands, the Datsun brand will be hyper-regionalized for its expanding markets, competing against everything from Maruti Suzuki in India to emerging Malaysian and Chinese brands in Asia. Interestingly, Nissan-Renault had tried this before with some success in Romania, launching its budget-priced Dacia brand that has now expanded into Western Europe. Originally launched in the U.S. in the 1960s, the Datsun brand was Nissan's way of entering the U.S. market with its small Japanese-style cars without its Japanese stigma. With growing popularity in the 1970s and '80s, Nissan felt comfortable unifying its product portfolio on a world stage. In 1982, it dropped the Datsun nameplate in the U.S. As Nissan once used the Datsun name to help enter a new market, it hopes lightning will strike twice with the classic name in a new setting. Source: Automotive News
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