It’s not often that a car company gets to kill off a brand name twice. After retiring the Datsun name in 1986, it was brought back as Nissan’s brand for developing market cars in 2013. Now, just seven years later, it appears Nissan is killing it again. Make up your mind, guys. Jeez.
According to Automotive News, Nissan, as part of a larger plan of $2.8 billion worth of cuts, will be killing off the Datsun marque. Once it restructures, it should bring Datsun back so it can be cut next time Nissan needs to save money. That’s how business works, right?
The Datsun name traces its origin back to the 1914 DAT car, named as an acronym of the first names of the company’s partners, Den, Aoyama, and Takeuchi. In 1931, a smaller successor car was developed, the “son of DAT,” but Datson had unfortunate connotations in Japanese (because son[損] is “loss” in Japanese), so it was changed to Datsun.
Nissan chose to drop the Datsun name in favor of the Nissan corporate name in the 1980s; until that point, the Nissan name was for commercial vehicles. But in 2013, Datsun was trotted back out as a low-cost brand that would be sold in Indonesia, South Africa, India, and Russia.
The initial new Datsun, the $7,000 Go, was unveiled in India, and a people mover Go+ and later a Go Cross crossover were released as well, and these cars were well-designed, affordable vehicles for their markets.
The Go was effectively a re-worked Nissan Micra, with seating better designed to handle the very likely overcrowding, and some clever touches like integrated smartphone holders and docks instead of expensive (and often redundant) center stack screens and infotainment systems.
Nissan already closed the Datsun production line in Indonesia in late 2019, which was building Go and Go+ models.
Getting rid of the Datsun brand is apparently due to larger cost-cutting measures needed after the messes associated with the arrest of its CEO Carlos Ghosn in 2018, a lack of recent progress or direction, and an aging lineup of products.
Plus, since Nissan partners with Renault, which has a strong developing market strategy and lineup with brands like Dacia and impressive and very inexpensive cars for these markets like the Renault Kwid, maybe the Datsun brand was just deemed redundant.
Datsun is a name that still retains a lot of goodwill and history, especially here in America, where old Datsuns are remembered as fun, reliable cars, with icons like the Datsun 240Z and B210 still having strong followings.
Maybe once Nissan finally gets its shit together it’ll give the name yet another chance, perhaps as an affordable performance/fun car division.
I mean, why not? It’s already come back and died off twice now.