Remember Datsun, the Japanese car brand that persuaded many UK consumers in the 1960s that it was OK to buy Japanese products? Well it’s coming back as Nissan and partner Renault target the fast-growing market for very cheap cars (although not in Europe or the US, of course).
Nissan-Renault boss Carlos Ghosn chose the Paris Motor Show, awash with gleaming state-of-the-art metal, to announce that the company was exhuming the Datsun brand (Datsun was replaced by Nissan twenty-odd years ago) and planning to launch six models for China and India in 2014 selling for between $3-5,000. Its cheapest current model is $8,000.
Petrolhead opinion seems divided, some thinking this is a good move in one of the few parts of the world where the car market is actually growing at a healthy pace, others reckoning that Carlos, struggling with over-capacity in France and other European markets, is mad.
One of the issues for Ghosn down the line is what to do when some bright spark decides to import these cheap bangers back into developed markets. Some buyers at least may decide that they’d sooner pay $5,000 rather than $12,000 for a small car, even if it does look a bit naff.