Posted : April 2014
Author : Keegan Dorai
Can the modern range of Datsun vehicles be considered economically viable for emerging markets?
Is Datsun really worth reviving for these modern times? It is, and its parent company, Nissan is starting to realise how much that badge really means to the it during the current unstable economic climate. Speaking about its past, cars made by Nissan but wore the Datsun badge were initially meant for export markets; as such, underneath, they were actually reliable Nissans.
Exporting Datsuns overseas proved to be a hit. Like most Japanese makes, Nissan is often regarded as one of the best brands you can depend on when it comes to daily use and reliability. Till this day, cars such as the Datsun 240Z, 510 Saloon and the Fairlady Sports are still being looked after by connoisseurs and enthusiasts worldwide.
Recently, Carlos Ghosn, the CEO of Renault-Nissan Alliance decided that the Datsun nameplate needed a revival to bring back that once-famed reliability image. Rather surprisingly, the Datsun nameplate was revived with only three basic ideologies in mind; affordable, reliable and no frills motoring.
Today, the Datsun nameplate has made its entry into the global market by launching its very first model known as the Go. Sharing its chassis with the current Nissan Micra, the Go is a car that the company says will over the best affordable and fuss-free motoring package. Its debut was so well accepted that even Datsun has decided to expand its line up with a seven-seat MPV known as the Go + (Plus).
Unlike the Go hatchback which debuted in India, the Go + made its grand entry into the stronghold of Toyota Avanza-dominated Indonesia. Unlike its hatchback sibling, the Go + was specially developed to transport seven occupants (including the driver) at the most affordable price. And yes, the Go + is expected to wear a price tag that puts most basic MPVs to shame.
Datsun will soon penetrate the Russian market by introducing an all-new saloon called the on-Do. It will be a localised car as it shares most of its mechanicals with the Lada Granta. The Datsun on-Do is one of the few vehicles that Datsun is planning on using to carve out market share for itself.
As for the mechanical bits, both the Go and Go + share the similar 1.2-litre, three-pot mill that puts out an adequate 68bhp and 104Nm. For the rough roads of Russia, the on-Do saloon gets a more conventional 1.6-litre engine that comes with a more potent 87bhp. All cars are mated to a robust five-speed manual gearbox.
Though airbags are an option for the on-Do saloon, both the Datsun Go and Go + soldiers on without them, but it comes with a proven, sturdily-build bodyshell that is equipped with proper side-impact beams to protect its occupants.
Each model will be built specifically for the regions they are targeted at. The Go hatchback and Go + MPV is built in Chennai, India, while the on-Do is being assembled behind the walls of the AvtoVaz plant in Togliatti, Russia. The brand is confident that demands will soon soar in emerging markets. Nissan is hoping that sales of Datsun vehicles will capture at least 10% of the passenger car market in India by 2016, and sell 100,000 units in Russia.
Though its comeback might upset some loyalists, the return of Datsun as a budget arm for Nissan has never been this appealing especially for those on a hunt for a cheap and reliable roundabout. Before wrapping this up, I would like to provide a basic conversion list of how much each model is priced (based on floating exchange rates), and how much we might benefit from it, if they ever land on our shores.
Datsun Go Hatchback: (India – Rs3.12-3.70 lakh = RM16,800-20,000)
Datsun Go + MPV: (Indonesia – Below Rp100,000,000 = RM28,500)
Datsun on-Do Saloon: (Russia – RUB400,000 = RM36,450)