Datsun is here, and it only gets complicated

Nissan is re-launching the Datsun brand and it starts with India, one of the most looked out for among the emerging markets for global car manufacturers. For those who do not know, Datsun has a rich heritage in Cars and racing, but the brand Datsun was replaced by what is now called “Nissan” way back in 1981.

It has been in news ever since last two years when it was first announced. The reason Nissan’s move has generated such a hype in media and among auto-enthusiasts is because of the brand they choose, and not what they are going to do with it. Datsun pretty much helped establish the Japanese car makes in the western world, particularly the United States.

Datsun Go
Datsun Go

And yesterday, Nissan announced and launched their new car, with Datsun badge called “Go”. I wouldn’t be surprised if Go Air sues Nissan or Datsun (pun intended). It will be available for Sale by early next year and is likely to cost less than INR 4,00,000. That is the cost of current generation Maruti Alto K10, Chevrolet Spark (erstwhile 3rd generation Daewoo Matiz) and Hyundai Eon. But wait a minute, was not Datsun supposed to be the cheaper alternative to these cars? At least that is what I had understood.

Datsun Go front
Datsun Go front
Datsun Go interiors
Datsun Go interiors look dated
Datsun Go side
Datsun Go side

Nissan and Renault are talking about a new brand (for India, it is a new brand) and the media was talking about Nissan creating a car to offer to first time buyers. You have Tata Nano for that, and understandably, it is not doing well due to its reputation as a Cheapest car. And then, Nissan directly pits the car against the likes of Maruti 800 (new), Alto and Alto K10, Tata Indica, Hyundai Eon and Chevrolet Spark. Baring the last two, others are legends with the amount of sales they clock month – on – month.

With an already overcrowded scene in the ‘A’ segment (as defined by Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers or SIAM), it is very difficult to see what sense does it make to introduce an old brand for a country they never seen it before? Just north of the price at which Nissan intends to sell Datsun cars, you have cars like Maruti Suzuki Swift, Nissan’s own Micra and its Renault derivative – the Pulse, Hyundai i10 etc.

The reason why I said it only gets complicated is because the users now have many choices, and getting a Datsun brand in India without much brand recall, is surely going to test Nissan-Renault’s assumptions of Indian Market. Just because Nissan did not want to get their hands (or Brand if you may) dirty, they brought Datsun from ashes and ploughed a Russian made, modified version of Lada Kalina and Lada Granta.

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