Throughout the 1980s, Nissan struggled to ditch the Datsun name in the United States in the interest of unifying its global identity. Now the company plans to resurrect the long-dormant brand for some emerging markets, according to Japanese press reports.
Executives won't confirm the return of Datsun, but a new round of global product initiatives are expected to be announced this month. The reports say Datsun will become a subbrand, a portfolio of low-priced autos sold in such markets as India, Indonesia and Russia -- and specifically not in North America, Europe or Japan.
The name was created in 1931 by DAT Motorcars in Japan and was adopted as a pet name by Nissan executives involved in Nissan's low-key beginnings in the United States in the 1950s. The name stuck here, but around the globe Nissan was always Nissan. So in 1981 Nissan announced it was killing off the brand in America -- a slow, difficult process that upset many Datsun devotees.
Scratching their heads, some wags wonder if emerging markets aren't precisely where you would want to push a global brand, rather than an unfamiliar name the company once went out of its way to discontinue. But second-guessing Carlos Ghosn has never been a popular sport at Nissan.