Nissan to relaunch Datsun car brand as low-cost model

3 Oct 2012 – AAP –

Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn wants to relaunch retro-brand Datsun with a price tag as low as $US3000 ($A2910) when it hits the road in 2014, a report said.

The company will target drivers in developing nations – India, Indonesia and Russia – offering the barebones model at prices that put it well below current Nissan offerings, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The paper, citing interviews with Mr Ghosn and other executives, said Nissan is aiming for six Datsun models at between $US3000 and $US5000, a price that only a handful of Indian- and Chinese-made cars could compete with.

To cut costs, the company will source parts almost entirely from the country in which the finished product is to be made and sold.

And the absence of rigorous safety standards that would be applied to models aimed at the US or European markets will also help keep the price down, the paper reported.

“If you go to the US, it’s not going to end up being $3000,” Mr Ghosn told the paper in an article published.

The Brazilian-born Mr Ghosn said a future Datsun would be “modern and fresh” and had to appeal to buyers in developing markets because it would make “them feel good and is in their budget”.

He said the new brand will be one of Nissan’s primary “accelerators of growth”, in the campaign to grab eight per cent of the world market by 2016, up from six per cent at present.

All of which means boosting sales in emerging economies, which the company expects will account for three-fifths of all sales five years from now, compared with 43 per cent now.

The resurrection of Datsun marks the return of a car with something of a cult following, more than three decades after it was phased out.

Datsun – the first set of wheels for many adolescents – was a big seller especially in the United States where its sporty, two-door hatchbacks became synonymous with fuel-efficiency during the 1970s oil crisis.

Analysts have said the plan to reanimate the brand could help Nissan get around the problem of producing vehicles cheap enough to compete in emerging markets without polluting existing – more expensive – marques.

Nissan’s move underscores the growing importance of emerging economies, a key battlefield among global carmakers as growth in developed markets stagnates.