Nissan After World War II
After the war and in the early 1950s, Nissan formed a partnership with the British engine manufacturer Austin Motor Company in order to access cutting-edge engine and automotive designs. Austin Motor Company later became the British Motor Corporation. In 1952, the two companies reached an agreement in which Nissan would assemble Austin automobiles from imported parts and sell them in Japan under the Austin brand. After three years, Nissan made all Austin parts domestically and sold the Japanese Austins to the national market. The partnership also gave Nissan rights to access Austin patents, a position that Nissan used to refine and improve its own Datsun engines.
Nissan in America
In the 1950s, Nissan management saw an opportunity to market its line of smaller Datsun vehicles in international markets like the United States. In 1958, The first Nissan vehicle to come to America was the Datsun 1000. Built around an Austin framework., the 1000 was showcased at the 1959 Los Angeles Auto Show, an appearance that generated a few American sales that year. Also, in 1959, the company started a U.S. subsidiary named Nissan Motor Corporation.
In the early 1960s, Nissan developed its first vehicle for the American market: the Datsun 510 sedan. In 1966, the company merged with Prince Motor Company, a move that pushed Nissan's vehicles in a more luxury-oriented direction. By the end of the decade, Nissan had exported over one million Datsun automobiles.
In the 1970s, the Datsun brand gained notoriety through the popularity of the 240Z, a sports car with a six-cylinder engine. The car was renowned for its combination of value, design, and speed. During the oil crisis of 1973, consumers everywhere began to look for small economy cars that used little fuel. This demand pushed Nissan to build new Datsun factories in Australia, Mexico, South Africa, and Taiwan. At the end of the 1970s, Nissan had cumulatively exported over ten million Datsuns.
In 1981, Nissan threw out the Datsun name and began selling its automobiles under the Nissan brand. Around the same time, the company began building manufacturing plants in the U.S. as a response to the "Chicken Tax" that imposed a 25 percent duty on imported commercial vans. Also in the 1980s, Nissan introduced a racetuning division called NISMO, short for Nissan Motorsports, which focused on high-performance vehicles. The NISMO division still exists.
Nissan began the 1990s by releasing several models to the U.S. market such as the Maxima, Sentra, and 300ZX. This move caused sales to increase substantially. However, toward the end of the decade, Nissan models became more generic and unappealing to American consumers and the company saw sales drop. In 1999, Nissan formed an alliance with French automaker Renault to relieve some of its financial woes and for a strategic position. Nissan redesigned the Sentra and Altima, which became popular among consumers. Later, an initiative called the "Nissan Revival Plan" (NRP) set targets for sales and operating margins in an attempt to bring the company back to prominence. The program was hugely successful and, today, the Nissan brand is associated with quality, design, and value in America.
Nissan offers a wide array of automobile models for consumers. The Nissan Altima is the midsize sedan and offers several sub-models and optional upgrades, including a hybrid. The Maxima is a more luxurious full-size sedan, while the Nissan Sentra and Versa are economical compact sedans and hatchbacks with great fuel economy.
For those looking for utility, Nissan offers pickup trucks (the small Frontier and full-size Titan) and several crossovers and SUVs (Cube, Juke, Rogue, Murano, Xterra, Pathfinder, and Armada). The Nissan Quest is a feature-packed minivan, the Juke is a new fuel efficient crossover, and the Cube is a fully customizable crossover similar to the Scion xB.
For the sports enthusiast, the Nissan 370Z coupe and convertibles are available with a lot of speed and style, while the GT-R supercar competes with high-end sports cars from all over the world. The Nissan Leaf is driven on pure electricity with no gas required. With its wide range of vehicles, there is something for everyone in the Nissan line of cars.
Popular Nissan Products and Technologies
Nissan is known for the quality of its VQ six-cylinder, an engine that was repeatedly named one of the world's best. The company's NISMO racing division has a reputation of speed and performance among the tuning community. Recently, Nissan gained tremendous popularity as a result of the launch of the Leaf, the first pure electric vehicle to hit the market in over a decade. Vehicle such as the Leaf and the Altima Hybrid have garnered Nissan an image of environmental awareness.