Auto Culture

Nissan To Retire Datsun Name

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Nissan has announced that they will discontinue the Datsun brand name after more than 100 years as one of the iconic name brands in automotive history.

What was eventually to become Datsun began in 1914 with a car built by the Kaishinsha Motorcar Works [KMW] in Tokyo. The car was named DAT – an acronym of the family names of three early investors in KMW: Den, Aoyama and Takeuchi – and literally means ‘lightning fast’ in Japanese, but was promoted as Durable, Attractive and Trustworthy, or DAT.

Datsun’s initial vehicle production began in 1931 with a smaller version of that original 1914 car which the newly formed DAT Motorcar Company chose to name ‘Datson’ which was supposed to be viewed as “son of DAT” but “son” in Japanese can also have the negative meaning of “loss” so when Nissan’s founder Yoshisuke Aikawa took control of DAT in 1933, the Datson name was changed to ‘Datsun’ as the (rising) sun is depicted in Japan’s national flag and indicated a more positive meaning.

Of course, Japan’s involvement in World War II, essentially halted automotive production but Datsun was revived in the 1950s and began a worldwide push in the 1960s and 1970s (aided by the energy crisis in that decade) with the offer of attractive pricing, generous standard specifications and strong reliability. Datsun eventually sold 20 million cars in 190 countries.

However, Nissan sought to have their name become the primary name brand of the company and began phasing out the Datsun name in 1981 and by 1986, the Datsun brand was only being sold in select countries,.

In 2012, however, Nissan announced a Datsun name brand revival and sold cars as an affordable, low-cost brand under the name in countries such as India, Indonesia, Nepal and South Africa.

Nissan said they plan to focus on larger, more profitable markets – USA and China – with their premium Infiniti subsidiary (which has already been abandoned in Europe in 2019) and collaborate with Renault to produce electric and SUV vehicles for the European market.

The 1972 Skyline 2000 GT-R [Image courtesy of Nissan-Global]

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