Nissan Revives Datsun After Three Decades to Boost Sales

Nissan Motor Co. (7201), Japan’s second- biggest automaker, will revive its Datsun brand after three decades in a bid to increase sales in emerging markets such as Russia, India (INVSDPAS) and Indonesia.

Nissan will add two Datsun models every year in each of those markets helping the brand account for as much as half the company’s sales in India, Indonesia and Russia by March 2017, the Yokohama, Japan-based carmaker said in a statement today. The Datsun brand was officially discontinued in 1981, Christopher Keeffe, a spokesman for the company, said yesterday.

The carmaker, which gets about 33 percent of its revenue from North America and 21 percent from Japan, will start selling the Datsun cars in the three emerging markets from 2014, Nissan said. The brand, its third, will help the company compete against companies such as Maruti Suzuki India Ltd. (MSIL) in India and Toyota Motor Corp. (7203) in Indonesia, according to Ammar Master, an analyst at LMC Automotive in Bangkok.

“Datsun could bring in volumes at the lower end of the market,” said Master. “While the Nissan brand will continue to move upmarket.”

In India, Nissan sells its Micra compact hatchback from 421,765 rupees ($8,330).

Nissan shares fell 2.5 percent to 869 yen as of 1:35 p.m. in Tokyo trading, while the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average declined 0.6 percent.

Low-End Competition

Maruti Suzuki, India’s biggest automaker, derives the majority of its sales from the mini-car segment that includes cars with 1 liter engines and less than 3.6 meters long. The New-Delhi based unit of Suzuki Motor Corp. (7269) offers its best- selling Alto model from 240,352 rupees. In October, Hyundai Motor Co. (005380) added its cheapest model, the Eon, priced from 269,999 rupees, to compete with Maruti in this segment.

Compacts and mini-cars accounted for more than 75 percent of total passenger-car sales in the nation in the eleven months ended February, according to data released by the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers. Maruti had 42 percent of the total Indian passenger-car market while Hyundai had 19 percent and Nissan 1.5 percent, according to data from the group.

Vehicle sales in Indonesia are projected to rise more than 50 percent in five years as the growing working class demands minivans and compact cars. Nissan expects industrywide sales to double in Indonesia by 2017, it said.

CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets estimates Indonesia had 32 vehicles for every 1,000 people in 2010, compared with 123 in Thailand and 300 in Malaysia. Indonesia’s economy and population are bigger than those two Southeast Asian neighbors combined.

To contact the reporters on this story: Siddharth Philip in Mumbai at sphilip3@bloomberg.net; Anna Mukai in Tokyo at amukai1@bloomberg.net; Yuki Hagiwara in Tokyo at yhagiwara1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Young-Sam Cho at ycho2@bloomberg.net

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Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The carmaker, which gets about 33 percent of its revenue from North America and 21 percent from Japan, will start selling the Datsun cars in India, Indonesia and Russia from 2014, Nissan said in a statement.

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Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The carmaker, which gets about 33 percent of its revenue from North America and 21 percent from Japan, will start selling the Datsun cars in India, Indonesia and Russia from 2014, Nissan said in a statement. Close

The carmaker, which gets about 33 percent of its revenue from North America and 21 percent from Japan, will start... Read More

Photographer: Junko Kimura/Bloomberg

Carlos Ghosn, president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Co., speaks at a media briefing at the company's head office in Yokohama. Close

Carlos Ghosn, president and chief executive officer of Nissan Motor Co., speaks at a media briefing at the company's... Read More

Photographer: Haruyoshi Yamaguchi/Bloomberg

Customers look at an old Nissan "Datsun Sport S211" car at in a Nissan Motor Co. showroom in Tokyo. Close

Customers look at an old Nissan "Datsun Sport S211" car at in a Nissan Motor Co. showroom in Tokyo.

Photographer: J. Wilds/Keystone/Getty Images

Motor racing driver Tony Fall stands next to his Datsun 240 Z before the start of the RAC International Rally of Great Britain at the Centre Airport Hotel, Longford, on Nov. 14, 1970. Close

Motor racing driver Tony Fall stands next to his Datsun 240 Z before the start of the RAC International Rally of... Read More

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