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Nissan Begins Re-Launch of Datsun Brand

by on May.24, 2013

Datsun is set to make its return with a launch in India next March.

Nissan will launch five new models as part of an ambitious plans to bring back the Datsun brand – which will make its debut in India, starting in March of 2014.

The re-introduction of the Datsun brand, which Nissan shelved in the early 1980s, is a key part of an effort by Nissan to boost its market share in South Asia, company officials said in Mumbai.  Nissan plans to expand its Indian dealer network from 95 to 145 outlets to coincide with the Datsun launch – and hopes to increase its market share there fivefold.

“Datsun is an important part of the heritage of Nissan,” said Ashwani Gupta, program director of Nissan’s newly-created Datsun Business Unit.

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“We will offer our customers in India modern and spirited cars that they will be happy and proud to own—at an affordable price,” added Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who has said the Datsun brand’s launch plans will focus on “optimistic,” up-and-coming customers in high-growth emerging markets.

The Japanese maker has yet to release specific details about the five Datsun products earmarked for India. Two will appear there in 2014, it confirmed, one going by the codename K2.

Datsun also is expected to play an important part in “Nissan Power 88,” a comprehensive, six-year business plan that will accelerate the company’s global growth.

Even before the launch of Datsun, Nissan has laid out some aggressive growth plans for the Indian market, currently the third-largest in Asia.  By the end of the current fiscal year next March it hopes to triple sales to about 100,000. Meanwhile, by 2016, it hopes to reach a 10% market share.  That will mean exceeding the growth rate of the market by tackling established Indian leaders

“We know that the competition like Hyundai and Suzuki are strong, but nobody can dominate the market indefinitely,” said Kenichiro Yomura, who took over Nissan’s Indian operations in March. “Datsun is not a cheaper version of Nissan. It’s a real car built specifically for customers in India.”

But price clearly will be an issue.  The majority of sales for the dominant Maruti Suzuki joint venture are in the minicar segment, its best-selling Alto model costing just 246,500 rupees, or $4,439. By comparison, the current bottom-end model in the Nissan line-up is the larger Micra which starts at 430,122 rupees, or $7,700.

With many analysts predicting India could soon become the world’s third-largest national automotive market, behind China and the U.S., it surprised few that Nissan would first re-launch the Datsun brand there.  It has also targeted Russia, Indonesia and South Africa and will likely also aim for other emerging markets in Africa and other parts of the world.

Part of the goal will be to localize production – and to make sure each vehicle is targeted at the distinct local needs of the market, which will clearly vary between the first markets Datsun is entering.

The Datsun name was used in various markets through the late 1980s, when Nissan decided to adopt one brand globally. The switch was blamed for significant problems, especially in key models like the United States.

Paul A. Eisenstein contributed to this report.

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2 Responses to “Nissan Begins Re-Launch of Datsun Brand”

  1. jlowe51 says:

    I bought a new Datsun pickup in 1972. I paid $2200.31 for it. Drove it for 18 years. It had a little over 300,000 miles on it and was still running fine when I hit some black ice on the way to work one morning and totaled it out. Doubt if they can make them that good anymore. They load them down with too much stuff now that can go bad.

  2. Jorge M. says:

    Not sure why they believe that the “Datsun” name is a positive brand in the U.S. Few of the Datsun models sold in the U.S. were reliable or desirable models. Most were rust buckets in 2-3 years unless they were operated in arid environments. The Nissan brand actually has a better rep now days, IMO.

    Nissan may find out what VW discovered… that their idea of calling a VW Golf a VW Rabbit in the U.S. did NOT work the second time around.