Nissan all set to bring Datsun to compete against Nano

Thursday 26 April 2012, 11:18 AM by

As the tie-up of Bajaj auto and Nissan to develop a low cost car is under dark clouds, the Japanese automobile giant disclosed that it will develop a low cost car to compete with world’s cheapest car Tata Nano without any external assistance. The car will be priced around Rs. 1.25 lacs ($2,500) and marketed under the revived Datsun brand.

It is the first time that the company has taken this decision to indigenously design a low cost car. Although an agreement has been signed between Renault Nissan and two wheeler giant Bajaj for developing a low cost car, no positive outcome has been resulted. The car has been already displayed in the New Delhi Auto Expo 2012.

Carlos Ghosn, chairman and CEO, Renault Nissan, said, “There is a big chunk of the market where Nissan does not and cannot have any offering and Datsun would fill that gap," He further added, "Yes, that will encompass ultra-low cost or $2,500 or $3,000 ( Rs. 1.25-1.50 lacs) car as well. We want a car that will appeal to a motorcycle owner or a first time buyer (and) is reliable and robust."

According to Ghosn, Datsun nameplate was Nissan’s identity in Japan but it was discontinued in 1981. The revival of Datsun was to make affordable, reliable low cost cars where Nissan does not function. Carlos Ghosn, said, "In markets like India, Russia, Brazil and Indonesia, roughly 40-50% of sales are in a segment where Nissan cannot have a product.” He added "It is in those categories that Datsun will have a role to play."

According to Renault Nissan and Bajaj auto agreement in 2009, an ultra low-cost car was to be developed to be sold under the brand name of the alliance. Although the car was to enter the market in the year 2011, the project has been delayed. The Renault Nissan will also have to decide whether to proceed ahead with the RE60 of Bajaj displayed at the Delhi Auto Expo 2012.

Andy Palmer, executive vice-president, Nissan, said, "Engineering a car that costs Rs. 3 lacs or less is a very difficult proposition... I would say it is much more difficult than making a high-end luxury car.” He added, “There is no one killer product in that segment but there would be 3-4 different opportunities. Some of those will be successful, like the 'Dost' we made with Ashok Leyland and some would not. And there is some where we have not taken a decision yet. Bajaj falls under that category."

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