Home Cover Story Nissan re-ignites the Datsun brand

Nissan re-ignites the Datsun brand

Nissan re-ignites the Datsun brand

By Bhargav TS

The GO is specifically
designed to suit Indian buyers


People in their 50s fondly
talk about Bluebird, Fairlady, 510, 240Z. They are none other than the famous
models of Datsun, which sold across the globe till March 1986. Before the
global rise of Toyota, there was Datsun. Its first car went on sale in Japan in
1931, and in the late 1950s Datsun started its global journey to the US, the UK
and across Europe. In the year 1986, Datsun’s owner, Nissan Motor Company,
scrapped the brand name in favour of its own. But the time has arrived for the
new generation of buyers to know about it. Yes, Nissan has revived the Datsun
after 27 years and unveiled its first model ‘Datsun GO’ in India.

As part of a global strategy
– Power 88 – Nissan had announced plans to revive the Datsun brand last year.
The Japanese carmaker is aiming at a global market share of eight

percent and operational
profits of eight per cent by 2016. Under the Power 88 project, the company is
working on additional products to address high growth markets for optimistic
customers and this is in line with that announcement that return of

Datsun would cater to markets
like India, Indonesia, Russia, and South Africa with durable and modern

The name of the current
model, Datsun GO, is inspired by the company’s first vehicle, DAT-GO, launched
almost a century ago in Japan. Back then the cars brought mobility to people
who had never dreamed of car ownership before. The re-ignited brand and the Datsun
GO would bring a similar combination of aspiration and trustworthiness.

Speaking after unveiling the
car, Carlos Ghosn, President and CEO of Nissan Motor Company, said, “This is an
historic day for Nissan Motor Company and for our customers and partners in
some of the world’s fastest-growing markets. It’s also an exciting moment
for many women and men here in India who – today – come one step closer to
realizing the dream of purchasing a car.”

The Datsun GO is expected to
start at Rs three lakh and would be positioned to take on mass selling models
like the Maruti Alto and Hyundai Eon. The GO sets out to make a style statement
at the budget end of the car market with its striking design that is clearly
targeted at a younger audience. The aggressive design, which is full of cuts,
slashes and interesting details, is not what you expect in an affordable car.

The interiors clearly
indicate that it is cleverly designed to suit Indian car buyers. The two -tone
beige has blended well and few other equipments like air-con vents and door
handles has been borrowed from

the Micra. GO comes with a
mobile docking station that tunes into music from your smart-phone and
amplifies it on the car’s speakers. Roominess inside the car is going to be key
aspect for the GO. The car features two front seats that are very close to each
other and in the process mimics a bench like design for added space.


The GO borrows the proven
HR12DE (XH5) three-cylinder 1.2 litre petrol engine from the Micra. The engine
is capable of producing 75PS of max power. However, the Datsun will be tuned
for better economy and we expect a lower power rating than in the Micra.
According to the company statement, Nissan Motor’s Global design centre in
Japan was responsible for the Datsun GO styling, R&D and engineering
development for the project were entrusted to local engineering resources and
suppliers to ensure the product would suit local market conditions,
preferences, tastes and needs, and would be accessible in terms of price and
supply. The project development was of course backed by the full assurance of
the global Japanese car manufacturer’s accumulated expertise and quality

“When a customer buys his
first new car in countries like India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa,
first he dreams about it. To realise the dream, customers need to have access,
feel a sense of belonging towards the brand. Also, as this purchase will
represent a significant part of their disposable income, it is important for
them to have full trust in the brand and the product. So Dream, Access and
Trust are key values for which the Datsun brand stands now,” said Vincent
Cobee, Corporate Vice President of the Datsun Business Unit.


Speaking to Automotive
Products Finder in Chennai, Mr Cobee said, “Datsun cars will be modern products
and will come with contemporary looks, services and superior functionality with
real understanding of the customer need at an affordable price. A car made for
India has a great potential and not a car made for somewhere else, eventually
comes to India in its lifecycle.

We are targeting the first
time car buyers in India by offering a good product in a price zone below Rs
400,000. We don’t start as a new born baby. Nissan has been in the
market for years and we employ about 12,000 people; we have a large plant and
good vendor base. This will eventually help Datsun also.”

Replying to a question on
adopting frugal engineering, Mr Cobee said the strategy was quite simple – you
focus on one customer and one country, develop locally and go for volumes. It
finally brings you what the customer wants and not the regulation of some other
countries. Then you go for very high potential frugal engineering base called
Renault Nissan Technology Business Centre (in Chennai) and you go for volumes,
if you do all these three correctly, you are able to reach the sub-four lakh
segment with a very attractive modern product, that’s our recipe. That’s not
easy, but it is achievable. It will be much easier if you bring an old Japanese
or Korean car and try to localise it here. In India, GO will be manufactured at
its Renault-Nissan Alliance factory at Oragadam, in Chennai. Datsun models will
be individually developed for different markets, but the concept will follow a
common inspiration. Datsun GO will be the first of several Datsun models that
will be launched in India in early 2014 followed by Indonesia, Russia and South
Africa in late 2014. 

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