Can Datsun Become a Successful Brand in Pakistan Once Again?

On 22nd March 2018, Ghandhara Nissan (GHNL) were awarded the ‘Brownfield Investment Status’ by the government for revival of their existing assembly plant in Pakistan which has remained inactive since 2010.

Related: Nissan to Begin Datsun Production in Pakistan with Ghandhara

Earlier this week Nissan officially announced its entry (or say re-entry) in Pakistan. The manufacturing and licensing agreement between Nissan and Ghandhara, will see the local production of Datsun models in Pakistan.

Datsun is an automobile brand owned by Nissan since 1931. Between 1958 to 1986, vehicles exported by Nissan were identified as Datsun in international markets. However by 1986 Nissan had phased out the Datsun brand name. In June 2013, Nissan resurrected the Datsun brand for low-cost vehicles specifically made for the emerging markets.

Related: Remembering the Datsun Bluebird from the 1960s

Obviously for a good majority of young blood, Datsun is all about Go or Go plus that are being Googled these days. But for those like me with their hair turning into grey, we have seen some very different & popular Datsun cars in our early hood. It used to be a household name back then and plenty of models saw tremendous success in our market and were found quite frequently on our roads.

Datsun Bluebird 410/411 series. A popular car in Pakistan during the 1960s

The iconic Bluebird 410/411 series was a very popular Japanese car of the 1960s alongside Toyota Corona and Mazda 1500. It was a time when Japanese cars were beginning to make their mark in markets typically dominated by European brands. Datsun Bluebird 410, like any Japanese car of its era became immensely successful because of its reliability, practicality and above all its affordability.

The Datsun Sunny B110 was popular vehicle in the 70s because of its reliability

Moving on to the 1970s, the B110 Datsun Sunny was the talk of the town. It was a popular family car of its time and happens to be the same car that you often see running on our roads as a taxi painted in yellow & black and considering that the car is surviving for more than 40 years driven for innumerable kilometers is something quite extra-ordinary to say the least.

The popular Datsun Sunny B210 of the mid 1970s

Then came the popular B210 series Datsun Sunny, again a wonderful car of its time and loved for its classic design and those lovely tail-lights, which we as kids used to relate to the juicy ice lolly. Its interior was a huge improvement over its predecessor and I can still remember its dashboard with those pull-type switches for headlights, wipers and a large analog clock right next to the speedometer.

Towards 1978 the B210 was replaced by the B310 which was the last rear-wheel driven Datsun Sunny model. It was labeled as Datsun 120Y and stylistically was much more streamlined and looked quite modern considering that era. The facelift was introduced towards 1980 with squarish headlamps, revised broader tail lamps and redesigned dashboard.

After the 120Y, the B11 Sunny was sold with a Nissan badge in Pakistan and a few years later Datsun brand was officially phased out. The Sunny however remained a popular car in the 80s with a Nissan badge but when the local production was commenced under the Ghandhara umbrella in the 90s, the Sunny couldn’t keep up with the competition.

Related: Will Datsun GO, be a Reasonably Priced Car for Pakistanis?

GHNL on a couple of occasions tried penetrating the market with the local assembled B14 Sunny in 1990s and N16 Sunny during the previous decade but on both the occasions the Sunny wasn’t able to create any problems for its rivals. Between 1998-2004 GHNL sold just 1159 units of B14 Sunny averaging just around 165 units a year. Whereas the N16 Sunny was sold as an import from 2005 to 2008, but was assembled locally between 2009-2010 and sold roughly around 1000 units only.

People have high hopes with GHNL this time as the market strives for a quality car with a reasonable price tag. Datsun cars after a long gap of nearly 35 years will be available for Pakistani buyers but things have changed a lot during all these years. Back then Datsun was a trusted nameplate, but buyers of that era have become grandpas of today. Back then people had a courage to choose among different brands, today it’s all about Suzuki, Toyota & Honda.

Related: Datsun in Pakistan- What to Expect?

Ghandhara needs to be very careful in pricing their products and ensure smooth after-sales service to build a solid reputation among the customers. Datsun cars are doing reasonably well in other regional markets and have the potential to become successful here if rightly priced and backed by true after-sales support. We hope GHNL won’t disappoint us this time..

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