Is Nissan ready to revive the once-familiar Datsun nameplate?
That’s the word on the web, where various sources, including Japan’s Nikkei, and U.S. site TruthAboutCars.com, have been chattering about the possibility that the once-popular brand name will be brought back. But don’t expect to see it on your next Z-car, it seems. If the rumors prove accurate, the reborn Datsun will serve as a low-cost, entry-level brand in emerging markets like China or India.
The name dates back to 1931, when the old DAT Motorcar Co. first used Datson to designate its low-end products, since “son” referred to small in Japanese. When DAT was taken over by Nissan, in 1933, the name was maintained, albeit rewritten as Datsun, the more familiar spelling, since “son” also meant, “loss.”
With that spelling it became familiar as the export name for Japan’s second-largest automaker until 1982, when Nissan began phasing Datsun out and switching to its own badge. The move was controversial and challenging, many analysts suggesting that consumer confusion led to years of decline for Nissan, which until recently slipped to the #3 spot behind its rival Honda.