Is Datsun Brand Doomed to be Axed?

Nissan’s series of misfortunes doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. Still lurching from the arrest of its (former) chairman Carlos Ghosn over financial misconduct allegations, improper testing scandals, massive recalls, trouble maintaining alliance with its French partner Renault and evaporating profits, Nissan is facing setback after setbacks.

Related: Carlos Ghosn Sues Nissan and Mitsubishi for Breach of Contract

Struggling with plunging sales in several important markets Nissan is now about to make desperate measures. The Japanese automaker recently announced to cut 12,500 employees from around the world which is nearly 9% of its global workforce. Nissan will also cut down 10% of its global product portfolio to improve its competitiveness on a global scale.

Nissan’s global lineup includes more than 60 nameplates across the Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun brands. Nissan Motor CEO Hiroto Saikawa said last week in a press conference that the 10% product reduction will focus mainly on small vehicles, including emerging-market Datsun models.

Nissan re-launched the Datsun brand in 2013 primarily to cater to markets including India, Russia, South Africa and Indonesia. However Datsun brand failed to create any noteworthy impact in any of its targeted markets and as the company admits, it has fallen woefully short of expectations.

Related: Datsun Continues to Struggle in Targeted Markets

Although Datsun cars are cheap, affordable and to-the-purpose, it’s the sort of love-it-or-hate-it design that has kept bulk of the buyers away. According to Alfonso Albaisa, Executive Design Director of Nissan, Datsun will get a complete revamp in terms of design language to make it more appealing & significant. Albaisa explained the current design language would be replaced by a more robust one by 2021 which would also have more ‘dynamic purity’. However considering Nissan’s ongoing financial crisis, this doesn’t seem to be happening.

Datsun’s entire portfolio have been witnessing a sustained drop in monthly sales performance so much so that discontinuing the brand and mitigating the losses seems like a sensible move.

In March 2018, Nissan officially announced its entry in Pakistan; the move was part of Nissan’s strategy to engage with emerging automotive markets around the world. Earlier in 2018, the Ministry of Industries and Production had awarded Brownfield investment status to Ghandhara Nissan (GNL) under the Auto Development Policy 2016-21 for revival of their existing defunct facility.

Related: Is Ghandhara Too Late to Launch Datsun Cars in Pakistan?

According to GNL Project Director and Senior Executive Director Marketing and Sales Muazzam Pervez Khan, production of three Datsun models will begin in Pakistan towards the second half of 2020. Although Datsun cars including the Go hatchback and Go+ MPV have been spotted testing on various occasions ever since the Auto Policy was announced in 2016, one may argue that the company is too late to launch these cars in our country.

And now when parent company Nissan is battling with troubles and taking extreme cost-cutting measures, there are dark shadows over Datsun brand which might get axed to help Nissan get back on its feet. Whether GNL will still be able to launch Datsun cars in Pakistan becomes an interesting question, or perhaps just like Renault they will just fade into the dark even before making an appearance.

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