With Nissan South Africa announcing that it will reload into the local market, the age old Datsun brand, we have to look more into history to understand the return of the brand phased out in 1981.
The story goes: Just as Japan was resolving to flex its military power in 1914, three Japanese financiers, Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi were establishing a brand that developed to capture the attention of the world.
Taking its name from the initials of the financiers –DAT- the Datsun brand was established as DAT-GO (the DAT-car) in 1914. Targeted at the aspirations of young Japanese people in the early 1930s, the introduction of a light-weight, economical yet resilient car was named the ‘son of DAT’ – Datson – which later changed to Datsun. Those three letters –DAT- also combine conveniently to mean “lightning fast” in Japanese. Using the same letter combination the car was promoted as Durable, Attractive and Trustworthy (DAT). But then it would seem the creativity fizzled out and eventually collapsed in 1981 under the ownership of Japans second biggest automotive company Nissan.
It is Nissan which decided to re-launch the Datsun brand last year as its third global brand alongside, Nissan and Infiniti. The group says the decision was part of the company’s mid-term plan to achieve 8 percent of the global market share by 2016. “The return of Datsun is integral to our expansion in fast-growing markets where there is a mushrooming upwardly-mobile segment,” said Vincent Cobee, corporate vice president at Nissan Motor Co.
Before the 1981 collapse, Datsun did capture a significant portion of the South African market. Mike Whitfield, MD of Nissan SA said “Datsun enjoyed a proud heritage in the country after the Bluebird made its debut at the Pretoria Show in 1958. The 120Y and SSS models were household names, before going on to become the number one brand between 1976 and 1978.”
“Following Infiniti’s launch last year, we are delighted that South Africa is also a destination of choice for the Datsun brand,” said Whitfield.
The company said the first Datsun model to be reintroduced in South Africa will be a passenger vehicle that will be launched by the end of 2014.
“Datsun’s key values – accessible, reliable and modern – are designed to accommodate the needs and aspirations of this target group, just as it did for similarly optimistic customers in Japan, America and a large part of the world during most of the 20th century.”
The company said while NSA currently plans to initiate Datsun brand sales with one passenger vehicle model, it is anticipated that a broader range of Datsun vehicles will be available in the future.
Cobee said “Datsun’s key values – accessible, reliable and modern – are designed to accommodate the needs and aspirations of this target group, just as it did for similarly optimistic customers in Japan, America and a large part of the world during most of the 20th century.”