Nissan Motor Company finally brings back the legendary Datsun nameplate after a 27 year hiatus. Around the world the Datsun nameplate built a reputation as the inexpensive alternative to many of the European competitors. Many felt that buying a Datsun was a great value for their ability to provide style and sportiness for a portion of the price of similar manufacturers. Their ability to develop products that provide appeal around the world and especially to Americans, showed how Datsun had propelled themselves to be competitive against the more prestigious brands..
Many Japanese executives and automotive enthusiasts had said they should have used the Nissan nameplate from the start. Nissan executives saw the Datsun nameplate as the pet name that they gave to the exports. Many had felt the Nissan nameplate was stereotypical of Asian heritage and did not fit well in the American’s as well as the world’s marketplace. Which does not make sense, since if you were to break down the Datsun name, it also uses a similar Japanese naming. The Datsun name was derived from the DAT as the initials of the founding partners and the sun paying respect to the Japanese sun in the country flag, Japan is known as the “land of the rising sun”. Nissan had begun to see how well Honda and Toyota Auto nameplates were doing so well in the United States and had felt the need to make the change themselves. It wasn’t until the early 1980’s that Nissan took the initiative to discontinue the nameplate and in March of 1986, the nameplate was officially phased out.
Since the discontinuation many had sought out the Nissan vehicles still as a Datsun. In 1999, Nissan and Renault had developed the Renault-Nissan Alliance. Charles Goshon, with his current role as Chairman and CEO of Renault, had been appointed to the same position at Nissan. Nissan was in deep trouble since they had over 20 billion in debt. Goshon had the daunting task of bringing Nissan into profitability and vowed to resign if unable to accomplish the task. Within three years, Goshon had brought the company back out of the negatives and into one of the most profitable companies in the world. It is with the direction of Goshon, that had sought to take advantage of the world market and use the Renault-Nissan Alliance to initiate propel the Indian market with their first manufacturing plant in 2010. On July 15th, 2013, the Datsun brand was officially revived in India as well as other emerging markets. The brand is known as a low-cost brand to help claim market share in these growing countries. Nissan believes that their reputation for reliability and great value will help the brand blossom.
The Datsun of the past will not be forgotten and to me, Datsun was a cult classic. Not many people know about the once defunct nameplate, but the ones that do love and treasure their vehicles. These vehicles were inspiring, meant to be driven, and built to last. When you looked at these vehicles you can tell that they were meant to standout and meant for people to do a “double take” so that when we do, we see a beautiful lady. Nissan had done a tremendous job trying to seek the world’s attention and show that you don’t need to spend a lot of money to get style and speed. The legacy of Datsun has not been forgotten; many to this day still drive, customize, and show off their Datsun automobiles for the world to enjoy.
So here we are in the good old 2013 and Nissan unveils the Datsun brand back to the world. So what kind of vehicle do we have to represent the Datsun brand? A small hatchback called the Datsun Go. The vehicle was named after the original Dat-Go car that the company was known for at the beginning of their existence. Many of the parts are similar to the current Nissan Micra. The vehicle is priced very cheap, around 10,000 dollars. In many countries, automobiles are not as common like in the United States. Many do not have the same opportunities to buy expensive or even the every day cars that we have today. It is the task of bringing these lower costs vehicles to these emerging countries to provide a viable means of affordable transportation.
The Datsun nameplate will always be remembered and continues live in the heart of their owners. I think that it is great to see that Nissan brought the Datsun nameplate back. I, unfortunately, would have liked it better if they would have made it a performance division or something that would give the credibility that the nameplate deserves. When I look at the old Datsun, I saw character in the vehicle that other vehicles did not provide. The automotive market changes so often, maybe there will be a demand or a change of heart for the Nissan management to look into working the nameplate into different niche markets around the world. Goshon is doing one amazing job for this automotive alliance and I love to see how things will play out. Datsun, once again lives on!
Photos courtesy of Carsguru.com, Autoviva.com, and Superstreetonline.com.