Nissan revives Datsun to woo customers in emerging markets

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Dancers during the launch of the Datsun Go in Gurgaon, on the outskirts of New Delhi, India. Nissan has resurrected its Datsun marque to woo a new generation of budget-minded buyers. AFP PHOTO

NEW DELHI: Nissan last week resurrected its iconic Datsun marque to woo a new generation of cost-conscious buyers in emerging markets.

Nissan, which in 1981 killed off the Datsun badge that was a favorite of legions of drivers in Western countries, has launched a “next generation” of the car to penetrate high-growth developing economies. Nissan Motor Co chief executive Carlos Ghosn unveiled the first new Datsun model in the New Delhi, India, satellite city of Gurgaon.

The car is set to go on sale early next year in India, the world’s biggest small-car market by volume.

“The Datsun is back!” Ghosn declared at the car’s world premiere as he showed off the five-door, front-wheel drive hatchback that features swept-back headlights and a sporty grille. The 1.2-liter car will also be rolled out in Russia, South Africa and Indonesia in the next couple of years.

There are no immediate plans to sell it in the US or Europe.

Ghosn, who also heads Renault as part of a partnership, said Nissan has retained the Datsun brand concept of “reliability and fuel-efficiency” but “completely updated the product.” He gave no sticker price for the car, to be known as the Datsun Go, but said it would be less than $6,678.

With the re-launched Datsun, which will be locally assembled, Nissan aims to fill a low-cost niche from which it has been absent, while keeping its main Nissan brand upmarket. The Datsun, which first went on sale in 1931 and was known as one of the auto industry’s iconic brands, was sold in 190 countries. But Nissan scrapped the well-known name almost three decades ago, opting to use its own badge for the cars in what was a shock brand change for many loyal owners.

Ghosn said the new Datsun would give Nissan a “meaningful presence in high-growth markets.”

Nissan aims to have a 10 percent market share in India by 2016, up from less than 2 percent last year. In a couple of years, Nissan expects 60 percent of all auto sales globally to take place in high-growth markets such as India, Indonesia and Russia, Ghosn said.

AFP

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