Nissan was Datsun in the United States and other western markets before it was Nissan. And now Nissan is bringing backthe Datsun brand for emerging markets such as India and Russia. But don't count on seeing Datsun anywhere else.
In the latest gambit by a global automaker to revive a "heritage" brand for purposes never imagined during the marque's first go-round, Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn plans to revive the Datsun name to sell inexpensive cars tailored for fast-growing new markets beginning in 2014, according to Nikkei. Nissan plans to sell Daon vehicles priced around 50,000 yen ($6,200) first in India, Indonesia and Russia.
Dusting off Datsun, a move rumored for a while, would increase marques now in Nissan-Renault's portfolio including Dacia, Renault-Samsung and a stake in Rusia's AvtoVAZ. In fact, Dacia alreay is a budget brand managed by Renault and based in Romania, and the new Datsuns could end up being re-badged Dacias for sale in other markets.
Datsun was the brand for most of Nissan's cars and trucks sold outside Japan since the company's inception in 1934. Nissan quit using the Datsun name in 1981, but many consumers in America, the Middle East and many parts of Asia remember it well, as well as some impressive Datsuns of the day, including the original Z sports cars.
Strategically, Nissan wants to counter gains made lately by its biggest Japanese rivals, Toyota and Honda, in sales in emerging markets and has hatched a partnership with Ashok Leyland for India as well as announced a new factory in Brazil.
And why not? Fiat, for instance, has brought back the 500 name from decades-old mothballs, while Chrysler plans to name a new small car the Dodge Dart.