Datsun car is coming back, via Nissan, with high-tech features. First stop: India

17 Jul 2013

Nissan Motor Company CEO Carlos Ghosn was on site in New Delhi, India, on 15 July for the launch of Datsun brand at the Kingdom of Dreams

Remember the Datsun car? It’s about to be revived by Nissan. Back in the Eighties in Ireland, the Datsun was popular among many families, especially in rural areas. Now Nissan is creating a cheaper, high-tech Datsun for people who may have never been able to afford a car before – starting with India and then targeting high-growth markets in Russia, South Africa and Indonesia.

Nissan phased out the Datsun around 1986 but earlier this month the company revealed sketches to give the automotive industry a taste of the first new-generation Datsun car. Then on 15 July, the auto giant took things up a gear, unveiling the Datsun at a world premiere event in New Delhi, India.

On the road – 2014

The car will be the first of the Datsun model line-up that’s set to leave the production line and hit the roads from 2014.

First up will be India, Indonesia and Russia in 2014, followed by South Africa later in 2014.

Nissan first declared that the Datsun was coming back in 2012.

Now the company says the Datsun cars will be individually developed for local markets. The Datsun models will be locally developed with the support of Nissan engineers and stylists, as well as being locally produced.

Eye on high-growth markets

Nissan Motor Company CEO Carlos Ghosn was on site for the launch of the Datsun brand at the Kingdom of Dreams in New Delhi, India, on 15 July.

He said Nissan is reviving the Datsun brand to bring cars to people who are accessing the car market for the first time in their lives – with the car set to feature the latest technologies.

“People are looking for reliability, looking for affordability and particularly, some basic functionalities in their cars,” said Ghosn.

“Datsun has done this for so many years. We’re bringing it back and giving it a modern shape, with modern technology and we think it’s particularly aimed at the high-growth market, and addressing segments where today Nissan has no offering.”

Ghosn believes the new Datsun will carry a very attractive price for certain consumers in India, where the car will cost fewer than 400,000 rupees.

This corresponds to a little bit less than US$6,500 and makes it “very attractive” for consumers, he said.

1970-1973 Datsun 240Z photographed in Montreal, Quebec, Canada at Gibeau Orange Julep. Credit: Bull-Doser / Wikimedia Commons

1970-1973 Datsun 240Z in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, at Gibeau Orange Julep. Photo via Bull-Doser/Wikimedia Commons

Nissan is also targeting the new Datsun at younger consumers and who it terms as ‘rising consumers’ – particularly those who are accessing the car market for the first time.

“The first condition is that the car has to be modern. I don’t think people accept cars that are 20 or 25 years old anymore, old platforms or cars that have been tuned a little bit here and there. It doesn’t work anymore,” said Ghosn.

“They want fresh and new technology, they want good platforms and they want some basic choices.”

He claimed the first Datsun will feature “roominess” and fuel efficiency that will be the “best of its class”.

“It’s a complement to the Nissan brand. While Infiniti was a complement to the Nissan brand in the premium segment, Datsun is a complement in this particular segment of the high-growth market, where we have no offering.”

How it all began for Datsun

Datsun originated in Japan as DAT-GO (the DAT-car) almost a century ago in 1914. According to Nissan, the word DAT means ‘lightning-fast’ in Japanese but is also a reference to the first letters of the family names of the three financiers who supported the business at the time: Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi.

Using the same logic, the car was promoted as durable, attractive and trustworthy – or DAT for short, Nissan said.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic