The day Datsun became Nissan
The Japanese brand Nissan, present all over the world, didn't always carry the name. Born from the merger of two brands, it was given the name Datsun in the 1930s. It was with this name that the brand set out to conquer the world. But in the 1980s there was a complete change of strategy. Datsun turned into Nissan. This change took a long time and cost a lot of money.
The origins of the Japanese manufacturer date back to July 1, 1911. Kawaishinsha was founded in Tokyo and produced small cars.
Fifteen years later, Kawaishinsha merged with another Japanese automaker, Jitsuyo Jidosha Seiko. The partners created the company DAT, named after the last names of the founders.
The first model was called Datson, which means "son of DAT". In 1932, Datson became Datsun - in honor of the rising sun, the symbol of Japan. Thus the brand was born.
Creation of Datsun and Nissan
Two years later, in 1934, after the arrival of new shareholders, the concern changed its name to Nissan. Everything was simple: the concern was called Nissan, and cars were produced under the brand name Datsun.
To develop the Datsun model range, a logo was created in 1932. The Japanese flag was taken as a logo, to which the letters DATSUN were added. In 1937, Japan went to war with China and then the Pacific War began.
The company was transformed into a manufacturer of military trucks. Throughout the war, Nissan supplied the Japanese army with heavy equipment. Passenger car production did not resume until 1947.
Taking over the world
At the end of the 50s, the concern decided to export en masse, starting with the United States. At that time, it was unthinkable to use the name Nissan, which was still associated with the production of military trucks.
Pearl Harbor was still fresh in people's minds, and it was under the Datsun name that the Cedric sedan hit the market. Over the years, the success grew, and Datsun, along with its competitor Toyota, entered the world's largest market.
In 1973, the Sunny model was a hit and Honda was selling its Civic like hotcakes. Americans also bought one million Datsun 240Z cars in ten years.
In Europe, Datsun was also a success with reliable, inexpensive and attractive models. But one decision changed everything.
Datsun becomes Nissan
In 1981, the company's CEO decided to drop the Datsun name in favor of the Nissan brand. The main goal was international standardization of the brand. Nissan was distributed in Japan and Asia, while Datsun was distributed throughout the rest of the world. In the U.S., as in Europe, the change initially caused confusion among buyers.
It took years before Datsun buyers got used to saying Nissan. A decision that thus implied a transition period. In the U.S., some analysts believed that the name change prevented Nissan from gaining market share in favor of Honda and Toyota. However, there was a price to pay for the name change.
The change was implemented in 1984. Replacing signage at 1,100 dealerships cost thirty million dollars at the time. Changing the slogan from "Datsun, We are driven!" to "The name is Nissan" cost 200 million dollars. In total, the name change cost half a billion dollars.
Thirty years later, in February 2013, the press was summoned to announce the return of Datsun. Datsun has become to Nissan what Dacia is to Renault - a low-cost brand. Launched in the Indian market with a city car, the brand also debuted in Russia with a redesigned Lada. The comeback was extremely unsuccessful both in India and Russia. In 2020, Datsun died for the second time.
Thus, the history of Datsun is a story of ups and downs. The brand, which was once one of the most popular in the world, died twice and was revived twice.