“Japan’s Nikkei news service is reporting that Nissan is dusting the cobwebs off its Datsun brand, dropped back in 1986, and preparing it for a return in 2014. Loyalists will be disappointed to learn that the “new” Datsun badge won’t be riveted to the nose of any upcoming Fairlady Z in the near future – it probably isn’t even coming to North America. Instead, the report indicates that Nissan will use Datsun as a backup brand for low-priced vehicles manufactured and sold in emerging Asian markets. According to the Nikkei, Datsun-branded vehicles will be priced about 500,000 yen ($6,200 USD) with annual sales goals of about 300,000 units.
Rumors about Datsun’s return have been circulating for years. But only now, with Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn pushing to expand the brand into new markets (e.g., Russia, India, Brazil and China), does it really start to make sense as way to protect the upmarket corporate Nissan identity from being associated with low-cost entry-level vehicles.
The return of Datsun is interesting, but a two-tier strategy is hardly new. For example, Volkswagen uses its entry-level SEAT and Skoda brands to capture the low-cost market (though the two have moved upscale), while General Motors (working with SAIC) recently launched Baojun to target first-time buyers in China. According to TheDetroitBureau.com, the Nikkei also notes that Nissan officials have not commented on the report.”