Nissan last sold a car branded as a Datsun in 1981, but it’s bring the brand back for emerging markets like Indonesia, India, Russia and South Africa. The low cost brand will be launching in April in Russia with a starting price below RUB400,000 ($12,100) and go on sale there in late summer or early fall. Nissan is hoping that the new/old brand will attract consumers that had been considering used cars.
“The main objective (in Russia) is to be a serious alternative to the used car market – this is where we want to compete,” Jerome Saigot, director of Datsun’s operations in Russia, told Reuters. Though Russia has a growing middle class with disposable income, an aging fleet and relatively few per capita cars, the Russian economy has slowed and analysts expect new car sales to be down between five and six percent from last year. About six million used cars change hands in Russia every year.
Saigot said that there is is room for growth in lower-cost cars. About one fourth of new vehicle sales in Russia are in the sub-RUB400,000 segment, representing about 700,000 units. That figure is expected to rise to 900,000 cars by 2017 as the overall market grows.
“It is a big piece of the market where we don’t have any offer in the Nissan line-up,” Saigot said. “The risk here is to do nothing.”
The Datsun car will be assembled by Nissan’s Russian partner Avtovaz at their Togliatti factory, and it will share a platform with the next generation Lada Kalina. Though the Datsun theoretically will be priced about the same as Avtovaz’s own Lada, Saigot insists that the two brands are targeted at different groups of consumers. Datsun will be aiming at first time car buyers.