Nearly three decades ago, Nissan Motor Co. phased out the Datsun brand that had built a following around the world among buyers of small, inexpensive and sporty cars. Now, it is thinking of bringing it back, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The journal reported that the Japanese car maker is considering reviving the brand for a line of low-cost cars that it could make and sell in emerging markets where its Nissan vehicles are too expensive for consumers shopping for their first brand-new car, a person familiar with the matter said.
The Datsun name was first introduced in Japan in 1932 and the brand hit U.S. streets in 1958. In the 1970s and 1980s, Datsun won over US consumers with small fuel-efficient models like the B210, and driving enthusiasts with its 280Z. But in the mid-1980s, the Datsun name was retired so that the parent company could put its own name on its cars.
Nissan later added Infiniti as an upscale brand in the U.S., where it has had modest success. Infiniti models are also sold in Europe but the brand remains a very small player there.
The No. 2 Japanese auto maker by sales volume is preparing to relaunch the brand by 2014 and sell up to 300,000 Datsun-badged vehicles a year, each priced around Y500,000 ($6,173), the Nikkei reported. It said the vehicles would be made and sold in India, Indonesia and Russia.
Nissan declined to comment on future product strategy.
Introducing new automotive brands is expensive and can take years to accomplish, especially for a brand offering inexpensive vehicles. Nearly a decade ago, Toyota Motor Corp. added its Scion line in the U.S. After initial successes, its sales have been dwindling. Daimler AG has also struggled to establish the Smart brand in the U.S. and make it more than a niche in Europe. General Motors Co. never made money on Saturn before it was killed off. GM has had a good run so far after introducing the Chevrolet name in Europe as an inexpensive brand, however.
Nissan Auto Co. unveiled Japan’s first mass-produced sports car in 1958. The car was named simply the Datsun Sedan.
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