Chairman and CEO of the Renault-Nissan-Alliance, Carlos Ghosn, yesterday confirmed that the Datsun name will make a return in 2014, appearing on lower-priced cars sold into three emerging markets.
Ghosn, as recently as the Geneva motor show, was hosing down speculation that Nissan would revive the old Datsun brand.
"You heard a lot of speculation about the Datsun brand and there was a leak in the UK, etcetera, etcetera..." he said in Geneva. "Frankly, we have no comments to make because... we are not ready to announce anything for the moment. That is why I would make no comment on this matter.
"But we have said very clearly in the mid-term plan [for] Nissan that Nissan will be a global player..."
Ghosn met President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono yesterday and, while spruiking Nissan's manufacturing effort in Indonesia dropped the bombshell long rumoured. According to a press release issued by Nissan subsequently, the Datsun brand "will provide sustainable motoring experience to optimistic up-and-coming customers in high-growth markets."
That suggests the cars will be inexpensive to purchase and run, should be robust and durable for consumers residing in the three emerging markets concerned, and will provide a platform for aspiring Nissan owners to join the fold at grass-roots level. A volume-selling brand in three rapidly emerging markets seems like a key factor in Nissan's plan to increase its global market share to eight per cent by 2016.
The Datsun brand was well established in Australia and the US during the 1960s and 70s. Nissan's manufacturing plant at Clayton, in Victoria, built such models as the 180B, 200B, Bluebird, Pintara, Skyline and Pulsar models up to the early 1980s, when all passenger vehicles sold in Australia by the company were rebadged Nissans. Local manufacturing by Nissan ceased in the early 1990s and the brand became a full-line importer. One reason the brand remains highly regarded in Australia is the success enjoyed in local rallying by the 1600 (known in the US as the 510). An affordable sedan with technically advanced specification for its time — and easily and cheaply modified — the 1600 was the dominant force in every stratum of rallying for decades, from the moment it was introduced to the market in 1967.