All good things must come to an end. Sometimes they come back, too. This past week, Nissan’s CEO, Carlos Ghosn announced that the Datsun brand would be returning, following more than three decades of absence from the global marketplace. Don’t get too excited, though – you won’t be able to run down to your local Nissan dealership and pick up a new 240Z. This isn’t the same Datsun you remember.
The Datsun brand is bring introduced into developing markets. Following in the footsteps of manufacturers such as Tata, which brought the ultra-low-priced Nano to market a few years back, Datsun is going to go after up-and-coming markets. The target consumer is the youthful first-time car buyer, and the first cars will go on sale in 2014 in India, Indonesia and Russia.
Detailed specifications and pricing aren’t available yet, but these won’t be high-performance sports cars. Much like all cars going after this market, these cars will likely be low on power and features in comparison to Nissans available in the US and other mature markets. These cars will be built to be affordable and serve as a stepping stone for the first-time car buyer, who will eventually move on to bigger and better cars. Nissan isn’t aiming to build these as throwaway cars, though. They’re not just selling cars, but also the idea of a car. Nissan intends to build these cars as modern and reliable, if a bit de-contented by Western tastes. According to Nissan, the proposed product line is something that both Nissan as well as the end buyer will be proud to own.
The move isn’t unprecedented. Nissan is, as of now, the top Japanese brand in China, and plans to bring Datsun in, aiming for market leadership in India, Indonesia, Russia and Brazil. They haven’t released exact figures, but expect to price these new cars aggressively as determined by individual markets. In Indonesia, the new Datsuns will likely be sold at under $10,000. In India, the pricing will be more likely in the $4000 range.
In 1981, the Datsun name was phased out in order to pave the way for the Nissan nameplate on a worldwide scale. Datsun was a stepping stone to something newer and better. Once again, Datsun will be that for these emerging markets, and for a new generation of buyers who are just beginning to discover what car ownership can mean to them.
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