Nissan will look to Datsun’s heritage when developing the reborn brand’s new generation of low-cost passenger vehicles for emerging markets.
Nissan last month confirmed it was bringing back the Datsun brand, with a range of cut-price passenger models to be built and sold in India, Indonesia and Russia from 2014.
But don’t get your hopes up for a return of the 240Z coupe or Fairlady roadster.
Nissan chief creative officer Shiro Nakamura told Australia media, including CarAdvice, at the 2012 New York auto show that the first new Datsuns would draw inspiration from the brand’s more humble beginnings.
“For many mature countries, I think Datsun means very much like Datsun Bluebird, Datsun 240Z, but what we are looking at with Datsun is not that generation,” Nakamura said.
“[We are looking at] when Datsun started… The spirit of the very beginning.
“For India or Indonesia, the market is growing similar to 1930 in Japan. Exactly the same things we have done 70 years ago, we are restarting. The spirit and the heritage is the same.”
Nakamura confirmed Datsun would relaunch with two compact models in 2014: the first inspired by the brand’s early vehicles of the 1930s, and the second resembling the philosophy of its cars of the mid 1950s.
In both cases, they will be designed around the ‘DAT’ principle; that is, cars that are durable, attractive and trustworthy. A full model range is planned for later in the decade as the brand establishes itself and earns a competitive position in those initial markets.
Nakamura admitted the pursuit of low starting prices would constrain the quality and safety of Datsun’s vehicles, however he promised they would be a much better option than many other vehicles available in emerging markets.
“[The] engineering standards are not exactly the same as Nissan. I think that is one of the elements where we can make this car more affordable,” he said.
“[Consumers in emerging markets] cannot buy a Micra. Micra is too expensive for them, it is impossible to buy. For most customers in the market they are buying very old, unsafe cars. We are providing much safer [alternatives].
“Currently their standards are much lower – the safety and driving experience. We can offer much better handling, much better safety, much better quality, but the price is not so different. That is our intention.”
Nakamura said Datsun would release more specific details on its first vehicles early next year.