End of the road for the Datsun brand

Published: 25 April 2022

 Nissan to close Datsun brand
 Shuttering after nearly a century
 Plan is to focus on core brands 

Nissan is winding down its Datsun budget brand for emerging markets, as it retreats from its Ghosn-led expansionist phase and refocuses on its ‘core models and segments that bring the most benefit to customers, dealer partners and the business.’

Datsun was named after its original model launched in 1914: the DAT acronym stood for founders Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi and also meant lightning fast in Japanese – but was marketed as Durable, Attractive and Trustworthy. Its successor was dubbed DAT-son, which later morphed into the Datsun moniker.

Nissan bought into the business in 1933 and the brand helped fuel the expansion of the Japanese car maker after the second world war with a string of attractively styled hatchbacks and sports cars (such as the 240Z, below), before being placed onto the back burner in the 1980s. Around 20 million Datsuns were sold in 190 countries.

Datsun 240Z

Datsun as a world car

Former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn revived the Datsun nameplate in 2013 with a bold plan to refocus the brand on emerging markets. The Datsun Go was the super-cheap, super-simple hatchback designed to spearhead a volume sales push into India, South America and Africa.

Nissan spokeswoman Azusa Momose told the BBC that Nissan would sell leftover inventory and honour aftersales and parts to existing customers. ‘We can reassure all existing and future Datsun owners that customer satisfaction remains our priority.’

With Infiniti also withdrawn from Europe, the death of Datsun shows how mainstream brands are finding it tough in the squeezed middle.

By Tim Pollard

Group digital editorial director, motoring news magnet

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