The return of the stylish Datsun
An automotive icon of the '70s is back, decades after its parent company tried to kill it off.
The Japanese auto giant Nissan (NSANY) is resurrecting the Datsun, the once-ubiquitous line of roadsters that had its heyday in Britain and America in the 1970s. The new Datsuns will be released in India, Russia and Indonesia as part of Nissan's push to expand in the fiercely competitive emerging markets.
But the news is causing a buzz here, too, as nostalgic car owners recall the vehicles of their youth.
Why were Datsuns so popular? The peak of Datsun's popularity came in the 1970s as the Arab oil embargo of 1973 caused prices at the pump to spike. Datsuns stood out for being affordable and fuel-efficient and were "packed with up-to-the-minute technology" that enticed a younger crowd, says Ray Massey at Britain's The Daily Mail. Datsuns also featured a sporty look that reminded consumers of more costly BMWs (BAMXF) and Porsches (POAHY).
Why were Datsuns shelved? Nissan has owned the Datsun name since 1933, but it began fazing it out in 1981 "as part of a global strategy to strengthen the company name," says Caroline Winter at Bloomberg Businessweek. The decision "proved to be a disaster." Everyone in the West recognized Datsun, but few had heard of Nissan. The company's worldwide sales plummeted. Nissan likely lost hundreds of millions of dollars, and in the process fell behind its two main Japanese competitors, Toyota (TM) and Honda (HMC).
So after all that, it's being brought back? Yes. Nissan wants to compete in cheaper markets but doesn't want to sully its current models with lower prices. So the automaker is dusting off the old brand and giving it another whirl. Nissan executives say the Datsun's reputation for being affordable is a perfect fit for emerging economies, where it plans to sell cars to consumers who are "up and coming" and "optimistic about the future."
Will they be a hit? Datsuns still enjoy a degree of name and aesthetic recognition. And the middle class in Indonesia, India and Russia is expected to grow. But it will be hard competing with other cheap vehicles that have flooded the market, including the $3,000 Nano, which is manufactured by Indian car company Tata Motors (TTM).
More from The Week
Datsun started the small pickup demand with their bullet proof truck. Others copied and made money. Now no one makes a small 2WD truck anymore. The 'small' trucks they have today are still too big. Ford said there is no demand for a small truck but they are wrong. Their Ranger is not a small truck when compared to a 70 to mid 80s import trucks.No one is buying the Ranger as it get's the same terrible gas mileage as the F150 so they buy the bigger truck with more carry and tow as well. Flawed market research Ford.
I still drive my new purchased 1986 Toyota X-Cab, 2WD, 2.4L engine, 5-speed truck with 395,000 miles, 34 degree original A/C, 120 degree heat, real world 25mpg mixed/ 32 mpg highway at 60-65 mph (beats any 2012 truck mpg). Every year I get people walking up offering to buy it and the last was a 20's kid looking for a small truck.
Bring back a real small truck Datsun and it will sell.
I believe there are alot of americans that would buy a well made economical no frills car. The problem is that , for example the once low cost Corolla has been upgraded beyond what was once the Cressida in trim level and options. Low cost no more! Supposedly having all the options was just enough for americans in the minds of many car makers. Some of us do not care what it says on the badge as long as it rolls us to work and back. I know I cant be the only voice on this one.
"Fazing" it out? Maybe it would look better if you referred to "phasing". Faze and phase mean two completely different ideas.
That aside, it looks like the Nissan executives are on the way to outsmarting themselves again with their choice of market push.
Copyright © 2014 Microsoft. All rights reserved.
As geopolitical tensions threaten to spin out of control, investors are wondering how best to position their portfolios for the global turmoil.
VIDEO ON MSN MONEY
Top Stocks provides analysis about the most noteworthy stocks in the market each day, combining some of the best content from around the MSN Money site and the rest of the Web.
Contributors include professional investors and journalists affiliated with MSN Money.
Follow us on Twitter @topstocksmsn.