Nissan has ended production of its Datsun -branded vehicles for emerging markets amid weak sales, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday. After the declaration, the news exploded like dynamite in the international media.
The Japanese automaker revived the brand in 2012 under former CEO Carlos Ghosn with an aim to grow in emerging markets, and built affordable branded vehicles in Indonesia, Russia and India.
But Datsun models have posted poor sales in recent years amid intensifying competition, forcing the Japanese automaker to discontinue the brand for a second time.
The origin of Datsun and its passage through Mexico
The Datsun brand, which emerged in 1931 with the idea of offering affordable, reliable and durable vehicles, was marketed in Mexico until the mid-1980s. The Datsun 710 and Datsun A10 models were assembled at the Cuernavaca, Morelos, plant in CIVAC industrial zone, between 1973 and 1984.
After being phased out of the global market starting in the 1980s, Datsun was revived in 2012 for some emerging markets under Ghosn’s leadership. However, the strategy never materialized.
People familiar with the matter told Reuters in 2019 that the problems arose almost after Nissan began marketing the single cars in 2014 in small markets such as Indonesia, India, Russia and South Africa, where it also sells similar vehicles under its main Nissan brand.
In Indonesia, for example, after a relatively good start, Datsun cars soon began to reduce sales of the Nissan brand. “We ended up pushing two siilar brands in a market where you have a one or two percent share. You can’t do that,” one of the sources said, adding that there were similar results in India, South Africa and Russia.
In 2020, Nissan said it planned to cut about 300 billion yen (about $2.8 billion) in annual fixed costs and restructuring charges. At the time, a person familiar with the matter said part of the cost-cutting strategy included phasing out production of the low-end Datsun brand and focusing efforts on positioning Nissan in North America, Japan and China. Renault, the other member of the alliance, would focus on the European market, while Mitsubishi, the latest manufacturer to join the list, would focus on the Asia Pacific region.
This month, Nissan finished building Datsun cars in India, the last country to produce the brand’s models, while concentrating its global resources and efforts on electrification technologies.
The Japanese automaker plans to spend 2 trillion yen ($15.6 billion) on electrification for fiscal 2026 through March 2027, with the goal of launching 23 electrified models.