What lay in store for Nissan Datsun
The drop in the sale of cars in the West had somehow forced Nissan to look east. With Datsun’s comeback in the final stages, the company had gone back and decided to launch its old Brand in India, Indonesia and Russia. In the year 1935, Nissan Datsun cars were launched after the company began working under the new name Nissan Motors Co.
The shape of the car then, was different, it was immensely popular, and though, many other Nissan cars came along, yet Datsun was still the foremost selling car, till the year 1981. The company somehow decides to phase out the brand to have a single brand for all its markets. In a move to sell Datsun cars as Nissan in the US, the company phased out the brand ‘Datsun’ in the year 1986.
The lack of demand in the Nissan’s biggest market, due to the economic meltdown in the North America and Europe, where the company had done well over the years, has forced it to look elsewhere. And the closest it could think was India. To knock the doors of Indian market is never easy, primarily because the market is driven by low to medium cost cars. Consumers in India have long been known to love the idea of buying a small car such as Maruti Suzuki for so many years, and now the Hyundai small cars. To come over and penetrate the market is difficult, where Nissan just has a 1 percent market share.
Datsun was the best choice because people easily relate to an old brand. The risk of an entirely new brand would have been much greater, and if you include the price to go with it, then the prospects would have been much more damaging had the brand didn’t work out.
Launching Nissan Datsun cars is challenging
Nissan had never attempted something like this ever before. It has never made a Rs 4, 00,000 cars, the closest it came to make such a low priced car is Micra, which is priced $500-600 higher than what Datsun will be. The company has mostly sold cars in the West, where cars are more of a necessity while in countries such as India or Indonesia, buying a car is still very much considered a luxury purchase.
To enter these markets, and sell cars, it has to make sure that its cars match the aspirations of the consumers. The car should be priced lower, yet, it should not look cheap, and the car should also have the aura of a premium car. And the performance regardless should be top notch.
But will Nissan Datsun be a success again is a question that crops up. It’s not just about lowering the cost of a car, it’s essential to make consumers like it. The economic slowdown in the west has pushed Nissan to dig for a gamble, yet the gamble had come with a cost. Nissan’s decision to launch its old brand, at a price, which it has never attempted earlier, is a challenge in itself.
By Rajiv Sighamony