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Datsun is back!

Back, baby: Nissan has dusted off the Datsun badge, but don't expect a return of iconic cars like the 240Z coupe.

Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn confirms the return of Datsun for developing markets

21 Mar 2012

AFTER months of speculation, Nissan has confirmed it will resurrect the iconic Datsun name from 2014 as a low-cost brand for developing markets – three decades after its demise in 1983.

The news – and a new blue and silver badge – was announced in Indonesia by Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, with the populous South East Asian nation set to be among the first to receive new Datsun product alongside India and Russia.

However, do not expect to see new versions of the vaunted 240Z, 1600 or Fairlady.

The new Datsun range is likely to be comprised initially of simple and inexpensive vehicles suitable for low-cost markets.

This strategy to focus on emerging markets means the revived marque will fulfill a similar role to Alliance partner Renault’s own Dacia sub-brand, and it seems to fit Datsun’s enduring reputation for making cheap, cheerful and reliable cars.

Nissan is set to introduce the other member of its family – the premium brand Infiniti – to Australia later this year, but the Datsun badge is unlikely to appear in mature markets like this one any time soon.

 center imageLeft: Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn.

A statement released by Nissan overnight said that “Datsun will provide sustainable motoring experience to optimistic up-and-coming customers in high-growth markets”.

“Datsun represents 80 years of accumulated Japanese car-making expertise and is a important part of Nissan’s DNA.” Datsun’s original life lasted from 1931 to 1983, before it was subsumed into the Nissan brand – at great expense – in the interests of globalisation.

This latest announcement came as Mr Ghosn confirmed the company’s commitment to manufacturing in Indonesia, following a meeting with the country’s president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“Nissan is bringing new jobs and new vehicles to Indonesia,” said Mr Ghosn. “We are going to expand our production capability and offer a new and exciting product line here.” The Japanese company confirmed it will increase its production base and sales presence in Indonesia to the tune of 33 billion Yen ($A370 million), with plant capacity to jump to 250,000 annually by 2014, workforce expanding to 3300 staff and sales outlets to increase to 150 by 2015.

This could indicate plans to build Datsun vehicles in Indonesia, although this has not been confirmed.

The plan will make Nissan’s Cikampek site, located 80 kilometres from Jakarta, one of the car-maker’s largest production facilities in the ASEAN region.

For the first time, Indonesia led the ASEAN region – which includes member states such as Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand – for total car sales in 2011, with 890,000 vehicles sold.

Sales are projected to nearly double by 2017, and Datsun will be a key plank in Nissan’s drive to capitalise on this expansion.

Nissan Australia currently sources the Micra light car range from Indonesia, having switched from Thailand in November as a result of last year’s floods.

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