Nissan pulls Datsun brand plug again (for now)

The sun may have set on Datsun here in the United States when the company adopted the Nissan name in the 1980s, but it returned to other markets almost a decade ago due to its low price compact in emerging markets. That comeback is over: Nissan has stopped worldwide production of its Datsun brand. The brand was the brainchild of fugitive former Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn, who envisioned it as a way to increase the footprint of the Renault-Nissan Alliance in regions such as Russia, India, Southeast Asia and South Africa.

As an automotive news report Datsun’s latest vehicle manufacturing plant, a plant in Chennai, India, which was operated jointly with Renault, stopped construction in March, the report said. The Datsun brand is not dead yet, but all production has stopped. One of the reasons the name Nissan was not dropped altogether is that Nissan is considering changing it to an emerging EV brand in the market, the article said.

To be clear, Ghosn’s Datsun should not be confused with the original Datsun brand, whose origins can be traced back to 1914, which preceded Nissan, and which gave birth to cars like the beloved 240Z. It was sunset in 1983 for the Global Nissan nameplate Ghosn revived it as a bargaining basement label in 2013 as he sought to expand Renault-Nissan into the world’s largest automaking company.

Unfortunately, the brand failed to meet its target of 300,000 sales per year. The AN article further states that the brand has sold a total of only 470,000 units in eight years, with sales in India falling 40% to just 4,296 units in 2021, according to analyst group LMC Automotive.

The completion of Datsun production was planned as part of the roadmap for the post-Nissan-Ghosh revival announced in 2020. Without focusing on market share at any cost, the focus is on improving long-lived products with some updates.

With the closure of Datsun production, another flagship of the Ghosn era was discontinued on Nissan. With Renault discussing the sale of some Nissan shares and the newly issued arrest warrants from France, it looks like more will come.

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