Nissan will relaunch the Datsun brand, but the nameplate is destined only for emerging markets. Datsun will not return to the U.S., and there won’t be a new sports car in the vein of the famed Datsun 240Z.
Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn announced that Datsun vehicles will be sold in India, Indonesia, and Russia from 2014. The new vehicles are designed for “optimistic up-and-coming customers” in those so-called emerging markets. Nissan will invest about $395 million in its factories in Indonesia to improve production capacity to 250,000 vehicles annually by 2014, and also will increase the workforce there to about 3300 people.
Automotive News reports that Ghosn described the new Datsun as, “a green car, affordable car, small displacement, high local content.” It’s unknown whether the new Datsun will be based on an existing vehicle, although it could be a cheaper and de-contented version of a current Nissan small car. By selling extremely cheap and low-content cars as Datsuns, the company could avoid tarnishing the reputation of its more expensive Nissan-branded cars. There is no word if the new Datsuns will compete at all with Renault-Nissan’s other entry-level brand, Dacia.
Nissan is reportedly the third best-selling car company in Indonesia. The most popular Nissan vehicles in Indonesia so far are reportedly the Grand Livina, March, and Juke, which combined account for about 85 percent of the company’s sales there.
The Datsun nameplate has a long history, both in Japan and around the world. Nissan obtained the Datsun name by buying out the automotive division of Japan’s Tobata Casting Co. Ltd. in late 1933.Nissan built its first Datsun-branded vehicle in 1935, but production halted during and following World War II. Datsun passenger car production resumed in 1947, and the first model sold in the U.S. was the 1958 Datsun 1200 sedan. Two years later, Datsun launched the SPL 210 sports roadster.Then in 1968 the Datsun 510 was introduced, the first Nissan/Datsun vehicle designed primarily for the American market.
In 1973, the thrifty Datsun Sunny was so successful in EPA fuel-economy tests, that the car was advertised in the U.S. under the tagline, “Datsun saves.” By 1975, Datsun was the biggest importer of cars to the U.S. market.Among the Datsun brand’s most famous vehicles are the 240Z, 260Z, and 280Z sports cars of the 1970s. The rear-wheel-drive sports coupes, first introduced here in 1970, formed the inspiration for the modern-day Nissan 350Z and 370Z. By 1980, Nissan had established its factory in Smyrna, Tennessee, and started to build vehicles on American soil.The Datsun name remained in many parts of the world until 1983, when all the company’s vehicles were consolidated under the Nissan brand.
Sources: Nissan, Automotive News