By on January 2, 2013

It’s hard enough to find a decent used car for $3,000. Nissan’s new line of Datsun cars are being designed in mind with a starting price of $3,000, and there’s only one way to make sure the cars come in at such a rock-bottom sticker – use a pre-existing low-cost platform.

The first Datsuns will be based off the Lada Kalina. Renault-Nissan recently took control of AutoVAZ, Lada’s parent company, enabling the transfer of technology between the two marques, as well as the utilization of production facilities in Russia. CEO Carlos Ghosn is betting big on Russia, and both Datsun and Lada are part of his plans for expansion in what is set to become Europe’s largest car market by the end of the decade.

Lada cars will ostensibly positioned above their Datsun brethren, something unthinkable in the pre-globalization era. Remarks by Nissan’s Colin Dodge appeared to be trying to put a fair amount of distance between Lada and Datsun, with Dodge telling Automotive News Europe

The cars will use a modular platform with shared elements such as braking and fuel systems as well as steering mechanicals, Dodge said. However, he stressed that Datsuns would differ visually from the Russian subcompact. “The upper body and interior will be completely different, You won’t notice it as a Lada,” 

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36 Comments on “Datsun To Use Lada Platform In The Quest For $3,000 Pricetag...”

  • avatar

    The title made me think they were going to make a Datsun vehicle on a Lada platform, within the Quest minivan, for $3,000. Confusing! Further, we have Dodge giving the latest scoop about Datsuns plans.

  • avatar

    Introducing Datsun in Russia seems pointless. The Lada brand has already been established as the go-to for dated el cheapo designs. And the ultra low-cost segment has already proven to be a failed concept in India, and an increasingly shaky one in China. Why would it work in Russia, which has generally wealthier consumers than either of those nations?

  • avatar

    For $3k, they’ll do everything possible to make it a throwaway. For one thing, I’d minimize fasteners, and just weld/glue the whole car together.

    • 0 avatar

      I believe that the now dead late 1990s MZ multi-national motorcycle used structural adhesive to joint parts of the motorcycle frame together.

  • avatar

    A few years ago a $3k car could have been a good thing. A little thing called inflation over the years has meant that is the price for a 20 year old pickup. I wish them luck. Have been a nissan fan for years. Hope they aren’t stepping in s__t.

  • avatar

    I have to ask. How much more to make the 3k car last 100k miles? What are we really getting for triple the price or more? I am no conspiracy theorist, and I suspect much is from regulation like air bags and crash resistance and pollution gear. Still, there seems to be a lot of room in there. What mpg does it get?

  • avatar

    I assume, judging by the foglights, aluminum rims, and body-coloured side mirrors, that the Kalina depicted would not be representative of the $3,000 car.

  • avatar

    The pic looks like a mini Mark IV or V Golf

    • 0 avatar

      Trust me, it sure doesn’t drive like one!

      That Kalina platform sure isn’t the most modern technology, but it’s built to handle sometimes-atrocious Russian road conditions, so it might not be a bad choice for a car aimed at developing countries.

  • avatar

    My question to the rest of the B&B is this: if you could purchase a brand new 1990 vehicle for around $6000, would you? It goes without saying that the safety and technology would not be up to today’s standards, but I drove in the early 90’s, had accidents, and survived.

    I used $6000 instead of $3000, because I know I’d want a few options.

    So not to hijack, but would you be interested, and if so, what cars would you like to see? And what would you be willing to pay? A $6000 1990 911 wouldn’t happen, but maybe at $20000 it could?

    For me, if I could have my 1991 Nissan Sentra SE back, red with black sport seats and the 5-speed transmission, just like it was, for $6000, I’d be writing the check right now.

    Anyone else?

    • 0 avatar

      1990 Subaru Legacy Touring Turbo wagon with a 5 speed.
      1990 Honda Accord EX wagon with a 5 speed as well.
      1990 Acura NSX
      1990 Toyota Supra Turbo

      Here is 24k. Thank you very much

    • 0 avatar
      Kosher Polack

      I’d pay $8000 for a CRX Si that nobody messed up (but with a modern ignition/security system so it doesn’t get stolen the first night)

    • 0 avatar

      I would absolutely buy a brand new 1990 MY car for $6000 (or around this figure) where can I find one?.

      I would run out an buy a:

      Lincoln Continental Mark VII LSC
      Lexus LS400
      Buick Riv
      Honda Accord Coupe or Acura Legend Coupe
      Volvo 740

    • 0 avatar

      I often wondered why companies haven’t sold out to the Chinese with the same principal: take a perfectly good ’90s design and just remake with all new parts. Sell all the plans and patterns to someone and let them build it “as was” on the cheap. I assume the results would be better than the copy cat reverse engineering attempts going on currently. Basic safety has not changed much since about 1990. My wife’s ’93 Civic EX sedan had ABS, airbags, etc. A used one (with 150K miles) goes for around $2-3K so $5-6K for brand new version of the same thing seems about right to me.

    • 0 avatar

      Wasn’t that generation of Sentra’s still being made in Mexico as a dedicated taxi platform until recently?

      Also I was thinking about the Chevy/Geo Sprint micro econo-boxes that got 40-50mpg from back then.

      So much safety content, emissions, and sound deadening material. But you HAVE to think of the “children’s safety and their hearing”. And those pesky legal aspects.

    • 0 avatar

      I’d buy my old 1990 buick lesabre limited for 2x that if it came with zero miles. I’d also take a box caprice from 1990 or a chevy 1500.

    • 0 avatar

      1990 Peugeot 405 Mi16. I’d pay $8,000 for a 1993 306 new.

    • 0 avatar

      Your scenario is pretty much my dream world.

    • 0 avatar

      1990 Geo Metro XFi

    • 0 avatar

      You can buy one for 9K. Nissan Tsuru retails for about that much. Slightly different grille and trim, less powerful version of the 1.6 (no VCT/MPFI), drum rear brakes, but otherwise the same car.

      In other words, a B13 Sentra SE would probably run you $10-11K if they could sell enough of them here to make a profit. Some would call it too much, but given how much better the car is than current vehicles near that price range, it’s a downright bargain. Cheap parts and a proven robust drivetrain make it especially so.

      Which is why Lada might be a good idea. Make enough of them long enough, and they’ll be cheap. Maybe not $3000 cheap, but close.

  • avatar

    Making Kalina for Indonesia and Malaysia somewhere in Thailand would not be so bad. The platform itself is not as atrocious as the quality of AutoVAZ assembly, or so I heard. Now, would it continue to maintain the low price when built in Thailand?

  • avatar

    “Kalina” is a Finnish word for “clunk” or “rattle”. This could be a bad omen.

    • 0 avatar

      Having test driven a new Kalina, I can confirm that the clunks and rattles exist.

      • 0 avatar

        That’s becasue every car clunks and rattles after being driven on Russian roads after a spring thaw. Lada just saves you the disappointment of having your $50,000 Lexus rattle down the highway after its first year by engineering the clunks and rattles in. Its their way of being considerate to their customer.

  • avatar

    I believe the B13 Sentra is still manufactured in Mexico or was until very recently. I see newish B13s with Mexican plates on the streets of Phoenix nearly every day.

  • avatar

    The B13 Sentra certainly would be a better base for Datsuns, I think. Though the famous Lada, the Zhiguli, does have some eerie resemblance to a Datsun 510, if you want to go the classic way.

    • 0 avatar

      Technically that was a Fiat 124 clone, but there was admittedly some similarity to the 510 as well …

      • 0 avatar

        The reason Datsun-Lada won’t go for the Tsuru or Lada 2101/Riva as the base is that both platforms are too expensive to produce- too many welds, bolts etc. A modern car takes far less time to go down the assembly line than one from 1991, let alone 1966. Thus, the Kalina, which although not modern by Euro/US standards is much easier and cheaper to make than its predecessor the Samara- let alone the ’66 Fiat based cars.

        It is a shame though that Datsun won’t just churn out mid 70s B210’s with honeycomb hubcaps. After all, nothing says $3000 car like a brown 70s Datsun without AC and an odd smelling vinyl interior. Datsun saves.

  • avatar

    The 4-9k new car would be a good seller. Try to find a clean used car for that price point….not happening. You want it for your kid, and compete with all those folks who “just need a car to get to (crappily paid) work”.

    Meanwhile, the auto industry has no incentive to sell them. Given that the base cost to make a car is x, and to sell that car with options does not cost too much more to make.

    If it costs 10k to make a 23k retail car, and 15k to make a 35k retail car, there’s no incentive to try to sell a car for less. The economics don’t work for the maker. The cheap car will also take the space of the expensive car.

    There’s a reason every car maker wants to make the next three series….18k to make, 58k retail.

    I’m guessing here as to numbers, but it has been known for years that the cost of production for a Pinto vs a Lincoln isn’t nearly as wide as the retail spread.

  • avatar

    ho boy… it just rattles the chaines of the industry pundits to see the inevitable…and logical… end… complete and utter end… to all the sillyness and posturing of the industry. Once you have antilock brakes and airbags… laid on top of fuel injection and electronic igniion.. what do you really have? juat more pointless styling year after year after year. Blutooth and etc notwithstanding, its all pretty much redundancy once the backbone technologies are in place… and paid for.
    The Fiat 124…beefed up in the Lada… does just fine in unforgiving environments… and a plethora of …again…fully paid for and reliable engines (Suzukis 3cyl 1.0 is a perfect example…amongst manymanyothers)… add all these together…mix in a little high quality low cost labor…treat them like adults… make sure upper mgt and scumbag “investors” don’t get a chance to skim off what they might feel entitled to and BOOM… you’ve got the recipie for the car of the future. Namely: a very…very… low cost and high quality vehicle that doesnt hit the top of the charts in ANY catagory… but … it will last 300,000 miles with minimal repairs… and take all the abuse that can be handed it. That…is… the… car of the future. And it will have the following and the admiration of people from all over the world.And it will be made all over the world. And admired and loved all over the world. The niche players? The supposed “drivers cars”?… yep… they will survive as items to be aspired to by many … and mocked by even more… because… for all their better qualities they just wont be all that much better… or be all that much more fun to drive… than this car of the future made using 15 year old technology…and 15 year old technology isnt all that bad. My LS400 and Impreza and Crown Vic and a dozen others attest too that obvious face…each…and…every…day.

  • avatar


    Now if someone can somehow help address…somehow…the following:

    In 1978 I invented and patented an embedded software that EPA tests proved a 3.4% improvement to gas milage. I worked with Motorola and Ford to have it integrated into 1st the Tempo in 1984… and then the Taurus in 1986.
    But: the EPA made a rule against it! The long and short of it?
    It is control strategy built into all mfgrs EEC systems that improves A/C efficiency by over 80%.
    Problem? The EPA would not regognize inprovements to CAFE numbers that result from inprovements to A/C. A bit of a real world Catch-22.
    A formal petition to EPA thru the offices of senators Goldwater and Garn received…in writing from the administrator of EPA… that while they…the EPA… recognized the shortcoming in their CAFE test regulations, they had no intention of letting those improvements be part of CAFE numbers. Joseph Heller was right in ways he never imagined.
    4 years of living at the YMCA in downtown Detroit, a huge investment on my part, success in getting it integrated into EEC systems and nothing to show for it except a $15,000 contract with Ford for a low freon indicator. A nice bone thrown to me from sympathetic Ford engineers. The patent was rendered moot. Yet run the overall savings since 1984 and the number becomes astounding.
    If anyone knows how to confront the EPA about this I’m open to suggestions. The patent laws have all long past and prevent recorse thru that avenue, but if anyone has connections with any public interest firm that in search of a cause concerning such abuse of technocrats then I am truly interested in speaking with them.
    The industry is a behemouth. An exhausting labyrinth when combined with the equally convoluted asylum that the EPA has become.
    You should have heard what Mr. Goldwater said when he was rebuffed so flippantly. It’s all pretty funny when one has the right sense of humor.

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