Renault-Nissan already has Dacia as its “low-cost” brand, to compete with vehicles in the $10,000 range, the auto maker is moving forward with plans to introduce a new car that costs as little as $3,000.
Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn plans to launch six Datsun models starting in 2014, with prices ranging between $3,000 and $5,000. While product plans haven’t been revealed, the cars would be extremely basic, though industry watchers have stopped short of declaring that they will emulate the Tata Nano microcar.
For Ghosn, the Datsun project has nothing to do with the revival of the 240Z or the 510. His ambition is to provide mobility to developing world markets, reaching further into the depths of the low-cost market, even when large manufacturers like Volkswagen haven’t even begun to wade into it.
To even have a shot at reaching the $3,000 price point, the Datsuns will have to have nothing in the way of content. The WSJ reports with horror that they won’t come with an automatic transmission or airbags. A recent trip to Guatemala saw basic versions of late model Mitsubishis and Daewoos with lap belts in the rear, which suggests that the bar for decontenting is much lower than the ink-stained wretches of the Financial District can possibly fathom
To try to compete on that level, Nissan has pared back on the latest safety technology and redundant quality checks. “You make a car as simple as you can and you’re going to wind up with an $8,000 car from the costs of safety, powertrain efficiency, fuel efficiency and structural data for the platform,” said François Bancon, 60, Nissan’s general manager of product strategy and a member of the exploratory group. “We had to change the recipe, because the same recipe gives you the same dishes plus or minus some details. The notion of safety? Believe me, they are very flexible about this,” he said.