NEW DELHI - It was one of the marques that helped Japanese carmakers establish themselves in Europe and the US.
In the 1970s, the fuel efficient Datsun became the car of choice for the everyday motorist fed up with unreliable gas-guzzlers.
Now, more than 30 years after Nissan decided to kill off the brand, the Datsun has been reborn.
Yesterday, a new model was unveiled in India aimed at first-timers keen to get on the car-owning ladder.
The new 1.2-litre five-seat hatchback will go on sale in India next year for under $6,670. It will also be sold in Indonesia and Russia.
The marque’s new website says Datsun is the brand of “the Risers. Young Risers in high-growth markets who are ahead of the curve”.
Its white and modern styling contrasts starkly with the dated, square design of old when the most popular colours were a washed-out orange, red or brown.
The first Dat-Car (Dat-GO in Japanese) was launched in 1914. It was named after the first initials of the company’s three investors, and literally means ‘Lightning fast’.
After selling 20 million cars in 190 countries around the world, the Datsun brand was phased out from 1981 and Nissan became the primary name for the company globally.
But, speaking at the launch of the new Datsun Go in New Delhi, Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Renault-Nissan, declared: “The Datsun is back... Datsun will help many realise the dream of a car ownership.”
Like many car manufacturers, Nissan has faced weak markets in Europe and the US and is targeting emerging economies with low-price, entry-level models
However, the Datsun enters the Indian market at a tough time. Sales of passenger cars fell by 10 per cent in the April-June quarter from the previous year, according to the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers.
Consumers in India have been hit by a slowing economy and higher interest rates.
But Nissan hopes all its brands - Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun - will have 10 per cent of market share in India by 2016, said Ghosn.