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Datsun: You Only Live Twice

The Japanese manufacturer Dat was "born" (for the first time) in 1913 in Tokyo, Japan by Masujiro Hashimoto who founded a small automobile company in the name of Kaishinsha Motorcar Works with 3 investors. The four friends change the following year the name of the company for DAT in reference to the names of the investors: Kenjirō Den, Rokurō Aoyama and Meitarō Takeuchi. But "dat" meaning "to run away like a frightened little rabbit" in Japanese, the four founders decided to return to the original name Kaishinsha Motorcar Co. in 1918. Another change in 1925 when the company was renamed DAT Motorcar Co. will once again change its name to become DATSON (the Son of DAT- 'son') before adopting its final name DATSUN (even if its history then merges with that of Nissan).

Datsun's Early Life

After many back and forths in the choice of the name of their company, DAT Motors began production in the 1920s of trucks and utility vehicles mainly intended for the Japanese army. But the market being in decline, DAT Motors had to join forces with another manufacturer to continue to exist. DAT Motors is therefore joining forces with Jitsuyo Motors, which is none other than the ancestor of Nissan. In 1926, DAT Automobile Manufacturing Co. entered the market and produced small three-wheeled as well as four-wheeled vehicles, which were very popular with the Japanese.

In 1930, the government authorized the Japanese to own and drive vehicles up to 500cc without a licence. DAT Automobile took advantage of this opportunity to produce and market the first “real” car, named the Datson. This market being flourishing and this model very popular with the Japanese, DAT Automobile was once again renamed, to take its final surname in 1933, Datsun, in reference to the flagship model of the brand and the origins of the manufacturer.

It's the beginning of a long saga with models that have become legendary and envied.

Datsun's First Death

Becoming the property of Nissan in 1933, the 1980s were not conducive to the maintenance of the activity of the manufacturer which saw itself entirely encompassed under Nissan, recovering in particular the line of sports coupe Z started in 1969 with the Datsun 240Z.

The automobile brand Datsun thus disappeared for the first time in 1981 after 20 million models had been sold.

Datsun's Second Life

Like a phoenix, the brand rose from its ashes in 2013 thanks in particular to the Renault-Nissan alliance chaired by Carlos Ghosn. Exit the sporty and elegant models, make way for the economic strategy with the new objective, dictated by Nissan, the Low-cost, an identical strategy that Renault applies with Dacia as Dacia. The alliance then operated under a double couple between on the one hand Renault - Dacia and on the other Nissan - Datsun.

The watchword: Go Datsun...

Datsun's Second Death

But the revival was short-lived and brutal, since it was through a simple official press release that Nissan announced the definitive end of production of Datsun vehicles:

“Nissan is focusing on key models and segments (…). Production of the Datsun redi-GO will stop at the Chennai plant” in India, according to a statement from Nissan sent to AFP.

The Japanese manufacturer had already partially stopped its production, in particular by closing its sites in Indonesia and Russia during a vast restructuring plan for the group on a global scale. So there was only India left, which in turn closed and marked the end of the Datsun adventure.

With barely 7,000 units sold in 2021, we cannot say that the brand has achieved success. It must be said that after the fall of Mr. Ghosn at the end of 2018, prosecuted in Japan for alleged financial embezzlement and who fled to Lebanon a year later, Nissan leaders drastically refocused the group's strategy on its key markets rather than to race for volumes. Sales will therefore continue until stocks are exhausted, while after-sales service will be maintained for vehicles already in circulation.


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