By on October 2, 2012

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.


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26 Comments on “Coming Soon: The Brand New $3,000 Datsun...”

  • avatar


    I would make a joke about Daewoo fanboys but – are there any?

  • avatar

    Ghosn is a smart guy and I trust his judgement, but…… I really do not understand the point of a super cheap car. If you want a cheap car, just buy one used? Cars across the world are either built to be very reliable (in Westernized, more affluent nations) or durable and very easy to fix (think Jeep, Beatle, etc.) People buy new cars as a symbol of wealth in developing countries (see the Indian craze with sub 4m sedans) and this obviously wont work.

    This is an interesting project and I trust Ghosn, but I still wonder at its logic.

    • 0 avatar

      When you reference Jeep and Beetle, I presume you do not mean modern variations of this line (New Beetle (’98 thru today) or any Jeep built since approx 1990)?

      • 0 avatar

        “People buy new cars as a symbol of wealth in developing countries (see the Indian craze with sub 4m sedans) and this obviously wont work.”

        Kinda looking at this from a first world perspective aren’t we? I believe you should reference the Tata Nano for world’s worst and yet, best cheap car, which I believe Ghosn has in his sights as the competition. Even a car with nothing in it is better than a gasping, sputtering rickshaw or Tuk-tuk.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        +1 dolorean Any car is better than hauling the whole family on your 150cc motorcycle. Now will one of these become a a gray-market TTAC staff car hitting the drive-though at Tim Horton’s?

      • 0 avatar

        @TheEndlessEnigma yes I am referencing to the historical models rather than the new ones :)

        @dolorean The Tata Nano has actually been a bit of a sales disappointment for Tata, which proves my point. Tata (and I think the rest of the world, myself included) initially expected these to fly off the shelves and start a new era of super cheap cars. Unfortunately for Tata, Nanos have not gone anywhere near these expectations. People aren’t stupid – for Nano money they can buy a better used car.

    • 0 avatar

      A $3,000 – $5,000 Datsun would be competing with a used $3-5K Nissan in decent condition here in the States, but in many developing countries there isn’t a backlog of nice used cars, and I’m sure they could build something that can outcompete an old Beetle or whatever.

    • 0 avatar

      The type of aspirational-class people in India or China who can afford things like cars don’t like to buy used things. A realtor friend of mine has many many Indian and Chinese clients and 9 out of 10 flat out refuse to buy a “used” house or a used car, opting to settle for less for their money by unconditionally buying new.

      • 0 avatar

        It does depend on the country though. In the places where they don’t have a “Westernizing” attitude, like Afghanistan, used cars imported from wealthier parts of the world are the norm. Look around the streets of Kabul and the vast majority of cars on the road are Corollas imported from the US and Japan, some of them comically still wearing bumper stickers in English.

  • avatar

    Well, with Helicopter Ben having just found a 7th overdrive gear on the Fed’s printing press, this type of car may be the only one that is affordable in our future (when priced in US Dollars, on the global market). I want to be wrong, but I don’t see the captains in either wheelhouse making any efforts to turn . . .

    I don’t see the problem either with this concept – what’s wrong with basic transportation? I don’t want a laptop computer built into my dashboard as it will be obsolete long before the car wears out . . .

  • avatar

    *cough* Yugo *cough*

    • 0 avatar

      What’s worse than a new Yugo? A used Yugo after the cheapo owner neglected it for three years. Actually I drove the Fiat cousins to the Yugo when I lived in Italy and though basic – they weren’t bad. Basic wheels have a place in the world. Maybe not one of the best cars for a 100 mile commute on the interstate but for 20 miles this way and that – who needs a $30K luxo-barge?

  • avatar

    Ghosin is a smart businessman. Like any good, successful businessman he is forming the business model by adapting to his intended market.

  • avatar

    Just chasing youth bulge markets like we did back in the day. Of course, our youth bulge was vastly more affluent overall, but Nissan and others will simply sell proportionally more cars.

    As for safety, what kind of roads will these cars be driven on…. will they permit speeds too high for seat belts to suffice? Plus, young drivers always think they’re immortal. Jeez… some of the beaters I drove as a kid… and was damn glad to have.

    • 0 avatar

      How about we ask the manufacturer to make it very clearly that these cars are what they and let the consumer figure out that they need to drive these with a clear mind and open eyes –just–like–a–motorcycle.

      Am tired of the gov’t telling me I can’t buy something interesting from the other side of the planet. Not a bash on Obama, just nanny gov’t.

  • avatar

    If they could over the equivilent of a 1990 Corolla or Sentra for 3-4k, that I imangine would be huge. My poor family could afford that in the DOminican. I mention the Corolla cause its bulletproof.

  • avatar

    Damn you for setting our hearts aflutter with unrelated images of classic, brand new B13s!

  • avatar

    If I am going to put myself in a 3rd world villager’s sandals, then I want something like a Jeep Cherokee. Now, how about a beam front axle and solid rear. Mono-transverse leafsprings. a mono-shock if possible? Plug -n-play lights, electronics. make it as simple as possible to field-fix (same size bolts/nuts/screws wherever possible, and…………a carburetor!

  • avatar


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