Nissan reintroduces Datsun to emerging markets

The company wants to price its new model at $3,000 to $5,000, hoping to build back its global share.

By Benzinga Oct 2, 2012 5:19PM
Credit: Nissan
Caption: Nissan TsuruBy Joe Young

Much to the chagrin of competitors like Toyota (TM) and Tata Motors (TTM), Nissan (NSANY) has announced plans to reintroduce its retired Datsun brand to emerging markets with a price range of $3,000 to $5,000.

Although Nissan did not release exact figures, its investment in new-model development will be costly -- most likely in the $1 billion range. Nissan is attempting to tap into the emerging-market category with a base price significantly lower than the $8,000 Tsuru model (pictured) it sells in Mexico.

Yukitoshi Funo, an executive overseeing developing markets for Toyota, was quoted saying that "it's a big mistake to think you can introduce a cheap car in emerging markets and be successful." Yet Nissan has decided to push forward, calling attention to its Datsun release with an ultra-low price tag.

Nissan has lost share in foreign markets and is expected to continue doing so. However, emerging markets continue to be an excellent source of revenue and product development for companies outside of the automotive industry, and Nissan wants to gain from that.

Six new Datsun vehicles are planned for expected arrival starting in 2014. The new model will be extremely basic (think manual transmission and few, if any, airbags) and the consensus even among Nissan employees is that the release will be difficult to pull off. Competitors also do not feel that there is enough demand to warrant the new model, let alone a new brand.

Datsun was discontinued in 1986, despite being the second-largest selling foreign brand in the United States just a few years prior. The Nissan name was then introduced to take over the Datsun market and unify the company as a whole. According to The Wall Street Journal, the brand-name change caused much confusion and is "still considered one of the worst marketing decisions in automotive history."

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn believes reintroducing Datsun to the world will create excitement and help his expectations of boosting Nissan's global market share from its current 6% to 8% by 2016. Ghosn also expects emerging markets to take a larger share of auto sales and hopes that Datsun will reap the most benefits from increased demand.

There is immense criticism surrounding the new Datsun, particularly over whether it can tap into the emerging markets and expand its presence in the United States, where the price tag is likely to become largely inflated. Tata Motors' Nano, with a sale price of $1,900, was a disappointment in this sector, although the company blamed its lousy marketing campaign. Chrysler's (FIATY) Dodge division debuted a stripped-down model called the Razor at the 2002 North American International Auto Show for $14,500, but the production model never saw the light of day.

Shares of Nissan rose less than 1% Tuesday to close at $16.84.

More from Benzinga
Oct 2, 2012 10:18PM

Dead on Arrival.  Bad then, bad now.  Just rented a 2012 Nissan Versa for the weekend while on vacation.  Seriously I've not driven such a  POS since the 80's.  Felt like a tin can, rattled, no power, front air dam fell off (Ok, its a rental, I'll give it that).

Oct 2, 2012 9:35PM


not a negative comment,

ther's hope for you yet,

and I won't spoil it, I think it's ABOUT TIME

somebody gets smart, and introduces a reasionably prices car,

a big AMEN on that! 

Oct 2, 2012 9:04PM
Oct 2, 2012 9:03PM
I would buy one.  Stripped down 5 speed is the way to go.
The Razor was to expensive.  You could get a better ride for the same price.
Datsun will sell.

Oct 2, 2012 8:57PM

Datsuns were cheap but relaible (for their time). Then there's Nissan. The other side if the coin.

Oct 2, 2012 8:37PM
I never liked the name change. They should have stuck with Datsun.And building cheap durable little cars.
Oct 2, 2012 8:00PM
For many people, just having affordable transportation without all the fancy stuff is just fine.  If it runs and is easy to maintain, it will meet the needs of a lot of people who otherwise would live without an automobile. 
Oct 2, 2012 7:58PM
I would love to see Datsun come out with a small, safe, cheap car. Make it 1.0 liter 3 cyl, DI, turbo engine. It should be small like a IQ with a 5 door hatch and seating for four. They could save money by having cloth seats, no radio, manual windows and a 5 speed manual tranny. Make a/c, radio, pw, pl, and sunroof an option. Spend the money on safety and a modern engine for max fuel economy. It would make a great commuter car if they could sell it for 5k-8k. I would buy one and drive my old Sonata as a weekend car.
Oct 2, 2012 7:51PM
I wish more car companies would make small, basic cars. If they can sell them for five grand overseas they can sell them here also. I love small cars.
Oct 2, 2012 7:47PM
Why doesn't these manufactures offer low priced new cars like this in the US? I think we could get a lot of old gas hogs off the road. I see the absolute base models still are around. Just not in the US.
Oct 2, 2012 7:27PM
Is that a early 90's Sentra? Looks just like the 93 my father used to drive.
Oct 2, 2012 7:18PM
I remember when the 270Z was introduced in the mid west. Great looking car but the road salt got to it and turned it into rust in only 3 years. The metal was as thin as a tin can.
Oct 2, 2012 7:09PM
Several of my friends had Datsuns back in the late 70's, early 80's, and they were great cars, I was sad to see them go. The B210 was a good little car, and the 280 ZX was totally hot in it's day. I hope it works out for them.
Oct 2, 2012 7:09PM

This is perfect to drive to work and back. And brand new with a limited warranty for probably around 500? Hell yes Datsun. Hell yes.


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